News: Preventing a philanthropic faux pas

You might be good-hearted and let your neighbours use some of your property but if you own land that is regularly used by the public for recreation don’t wait until moves are made to register the land for public use before taking steps to restrict access.

Darlington law firm Latimer Hinks is urging landowners to take urgent steps to ensure that any privately-owned land that is being regularly used by the public for recreation is clearly signed. Appropriate notices should also be erected in order to prevent the land being registered as a town or village green.

Mark Clayton, partner in the firm’s commercial property department, is highlighting a recent House of Lords ruling, which confirmed that taking steps to restrict access after an application has been made for registration will no longer be enough to defeat the application.

Mark explained: "This decision means that those owning land that has been used by members of the local community for a number of years must be vigilant and ensure that appropriate notices are erected making it clear that access and use of the land is not permitted. Preventing access by gates and barriers would also be effective."

"It is clear that the safety net for landowners of awaiting notification of an application to register their land as a town or village green before acting to prevent this has been removed."

"Landowners urgently need to review any open land currently subject to public recreational use, in order to ensure that the land’s privately-owned status is brought to the public’s attention."

Land can be registered as a town or village green if it has been used by local people for informal recreation for 20 years.

"Once the land is registered as a village green the owner is not excluded completely, said Mark. "It could, however, substantially interfere with any development plans and the value of the land, as the owner will only have the right to use the land in a way that does not interfere with the recreational rights of the inhabitants."

Back to: News Index