We are the Registration Authority under the Commons Act 2006, and are responsible for holding and maintaining the registers for both common land and town or village greens. Common land is land, usually in private ownership, over which certain people have certain rights, and on which certain restrictions have been placed.
The main features of common land are that it is generally open, unfenced and unimproved grassland. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 permits public access to open countryside, including access to common land.
Conclusive maps for all areas showing the land (including commons) to which the public have access, including the open access rights which are now in operation in all regions subject to any short or long term restrictions that may apply, are available on the Natural England website.
Rights of common land
Rights of common land 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)
Registration of town or village greens
Land can be registered as a green if it has been used by local people for recreation 'as of right' (without permission, force or secrecy) for at least 20 years.
For an application to succeed, you must establish that the land in question comes entirely within the Commons Act 2006 definition:
- a significant number of local inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged, as of right, in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years; and
- they continue to do so at the time of the application in accordance with Section 15(2), or where they have ceased to do so, the application must be made within the time specified in Section 15(3) or 15(4)
Apply to register a town or village green
Before applying to register land as a green, you must not only ensure that the land fulfils all the relevant criteria, but you must also check that the land has not been allocated for development. You can check this by contacting the Planning Helpline.
Anyone thinking of making an application which may be affected by the new provisions is invited to discuss the application with the Registration Authority.
To serve a formal application to the Registration Authority, you must submit the following documentation:
- completed application form - form 44
- Statutory Declaration, which is attached to form 44
- a map at least to a scale of 1:25,000 showing the area you wish to register by distinctive colouring so it can be clearly identified
- a map at least to a scale of 1:25,000 showing the locality or neighbourhood in which those using the green 'as of right' live
- You will also need supporting evidence that:
- show a significant number of people who use the land are local
- show that those using the green have done so without permission, without being stopped or seeing notices which stop them, and without being secretive about it, and that between them they have done this for a continuous period of 20 years. An evidence questionnaire can be used to demonstrate this and can be downloaded from the Open Spaces Society
A register of current applications.
There are no costs involved in applying. All documentation, including supporting evidence, must be submitted to the following address:
Block C, Staniforth Road Depot
Telephone: 0114 273 4264
The owner of land can also voluntarily register land as a village green - guidance notes are available.
We have administrative functions only. Information can be provided as to procedures, but where legal advice/interpretation of the law is required, independent legal advice must be obtained.
The Registration Authority is responsible for holding and maintaining the registers for both common land and town or village greens, based in the Sheffield Town Hall.
Each area of common land or town or village green is listed in the registers for both common land and town or village greens. Each number in the register is divided into 3 sections:
- land: a description of the land, when it was registered and by who. This section also includes the definitive map of common land and village greens
- rights: a description of the rights of common (ie the right to graze 10 sheep, 2 cows etc), over which area of the common they are exercisable and which property they are attached to. Some town or village greens also have rights of common registered over them. Entries in this section of the registers are not held to be conclusive
- ownership: details of owners of common land. However, entries in this section of the registers are not held to be conclusive
The registers are available for public inspection on Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays) between the hours of 9.15am and 4pm by prior appointment.