When local people want to prevent the development of land currently open space, they frequently consider applying to register the open space as a town or village green. The government became concerned that these applications were being done to thwart development rather than protecting long standing local uses of open space. As a result, regulations were created in 2013 to make it much harder to register an open space as a green.
The core requirements for land to be designated as a green are that local people, have as of right for at least 20 years, indulged in local sports and pastimes over the land.
The changes brought in by the 2013 regulations made the process of registering land as a green harder. A recent case, Cooper Estates Strategic Land Ltd v Wiltshire Council and others  EWHC 1704 (Admin) (5 July 2018) was about one aspect of that process.
The GIA 2013 regulations provided that once a “trigger” event had occurred, applications to register a green could not be made. Trigger events are events relating to the development of the land, so for example an application for planning or the adoption of a local plan identifying the land for development were already known to be trigger events.
This case involved an application by the landowner to quash a decision to register land as a town or village green. The Wiltshire Core Strategy was published in 2015, it identified certain settlements where development could take place and then within those settlements a presumption in favour of development within set boundaries. The issue was whether that was sufficient to identify the land for development and so be a designated trigger event. The judge decided that it was sufficient and the designation as a green was quashed. This will be good news for landowners and developers and means that local people must be pro-active in considering applications long before there is any potential for development.
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