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Friday 25 April 2014

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Land Charges

Common Land and Village Green Searches

Devon County Council is the Commons Registration Authority for Devon.  The Land Charges office is responsible for the updating of the Common Land and Town or Village Green Registers including amendments to the Register and the registering of new Town or Village Greens within Devon.

With the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPS) on the 1 August 2007 Question 22 was added as an optional question on the new CON29 Optional form, this question replaces form CR 21 and asks whether the property is part of or abutting registered common land or town or village greens under the Commons Registration Act 1965 or the Commons Act 2006.

What if a search reveals that the property is abutting or within Common Land, Town or Village Green?

If we provide a positive reply to your Common Land and Town and Village Green search, there may be implications for you. Please speak to your Conveyancer for advice, or contact the Land Charges Team on (01392) 382937 if you require copies of the Register of Common Land, Register Maps or other related documents we hold.

Pending applications for the registration of Town and Village Greens

If you would like to find out whether there is a pending application for the registration of a Town or Village Green in a particular parish, please see our Public Notices, and contact Land Charges on (01392) 382937 if you require further information about an application.

What is common land?

Common land is land, usually in private ownership, that has rights of common over it. The main features of common land are that it is generally open, unfenced and remote - particularly in the upland areas of England and Wales. However, there are some lowland areas of common, particularly in the south-east of England, that are important for recreational uses.

Rights of common can include:

  • grazing sheep or cattle (herbage)
  • taking peat or turf (turbary)
  • taking wood, gorse or furze (estovers)
  • taking of fish (piscary)
  • eating of acorns or beechmast by pigs (pannage)

The people who are able to exercise the rights listed above are generally known as 'commoners'.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000 permits public access to open countryside including access to common land. The Countryside Agency have published conclusive maps for all areas showing the land (including commons) to which the public have access and the new open access rights are now in operation in all regions subject to any short or long term restrictions that may apply.

What is a Town or Village Green?

Town or village greens share a similar history to common land. However, they are defined separately for the purposes of the Commons Registration Act 1965.

Village greens are usually areas of land within defined settlements or geographical areas which local inhabitants can go onto for the exercise of lawful sports and pastimes as of right for at least 20 years and either a) continue to do so or b) have ceased to do so for not more than said period as may be prescribed. Typically, these might include organised or ad-hoc games, picnics, fetes and other similar activities. Whilst land forming town or village greens may be privately owned, many greens are owned and maintained by local Parish or Community Councils. Some greens may also have rights of common (i.e. grazing of livestock) over them.

Information on how to register land as a new town or village green can be found at Town or Village Greens.

More information and advice on Common Land and Town or Village Greens can be obtained from DEFRA or the Open Spaces Society.

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