Protection and consents
Common land has always been protected by the careful balance which exists between the interests of the owner and of the commoners.
New legislation from 1 October 2007 - making an application
The Commons Act 2006 introduced the following two new consenting regimes, replacing two existing regimes. Both new regimes (and associated new application procedures) came into force in England on 1st October 2007. On the same date, responsibility for determining all applications to the Secretary of State in relation to common land and town or village greens was transferred to the Planning Inspectorate.
Defra has published its policy guidance [PDF] (81 KB) in relation to granting consents to various activities on common land and town or village greens. The guidance should be read in conjunction with the Commons Act 2006, and with Planning Inspectorate guidance.
Section 38 of the Commons Act 2006
Section 38 replaces section 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925, which is repealed by the 2006 Act.
Under section 38, consent is generally needed from the Secretary of State for any restricted works on registered common land. Restricted works are those which prevent or impede access to or over the land, which might include erecting fencing, constructing buildings, digging ditches, but also includes the resurfacing of land with tarmac and similar materials.
Section 16 of the Commons Act 2006
Section 16 replaces section 147 of the Inclosure Act 1845, which is repealed by the 2006 Act.
Under section 16, owners of registered common land or town or village greens can apply to have the land released from registration. If the ‘release land’ is more than 200 square metres in area, they must make an application at the same time to register ‘replacement land’ as common land or green in its place. If the release land is smaller than 200 square metres, a proposal to register replacement land may (but need not) be included.
Further information, including application forms and guidance, can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website:
Public Consultation on Consenting Regime Proposals
On the 15 January 2007 Defra issued a consultation paper on its proposed amendments to the consent regimes which apply to common land in England.
On 15 March 2007, a focus group met to discuss the proposed amendments to the consent regimes.
- Minutes of the meetings [40 KB]
A summary of responses to the consultation was published on 1 August 2007:
- Summary of Responses [78 KB]
Defra determines between 40 and 50 of these cases a year. Copies of decision letters issued on these applications since 1 January 2005 are available from the link below:
Decision letters issued after 1 October 2007 may be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.
Defra holds over 5,000 pink slip / casework cards. These cards are informal records about applications made to the Secretary of State for consent under various commons enactments. Defra has been keeping these records for a number of years and they provide some historical evidence regarding consents. Please note that this table is a manual transcription of Defra's records available in both Microsoft Excel and Adobe Acrobat format.
- Adobe acrobat version of table (831 KB) [last updated: October 2007]
- Excel version of table (2.3 MB - large file size) [last updated: October 2007]
We have tried to make this table as accurate and comprehensive as possible. The casework cards on which this table is based are in manuscript, and many of the cards are themselves completed from other manuscript sources, such as Ministry ledgers up to a 100 years old. Therefore the data do contain errors and omissions, and the user should treat the data with caution.
The table is updated on a quarterly basis. The table is presented grouped by county, and then by district. All records have been transcribed without modification, and therefore many entries are shown under pre-1974 local government areas, and the alphabetical listing within a county should not be relied upon ( e.g. the same common may be listed under both the old county borough of Southampton and under Hampshire).
Commons may be listed as subsidiary entries with the name of another common first in the list, and therefore not necessarily as the first words in the column headed "Name of Common/Site". In many such cases, separate casework cards were completed for each of the commons affected by a particular decision (for example, all the commons subject to a new scheme of management) so as to facilitate indexation in a card-based system, and all of those cards have now been separately entered into the database. This means that, for many decisions, there are several near identical records.
Users are advised to use the search facility within Acrobat or Excel to look for occurrences of a particular common or green. Names may sometimes be misspelt, so it may be helpful to search for truncated forms of the name ( e.g. searching for 'minch' would locate 'Minchenhampton Common' in a misspelt form as well as 'Minchinhampton Common').
A 'searchable date' column has been added to the table. This is derived from any date recorded in the preceding two columns, or failing that, elsewhere in the record. The searchable date field may be used to sort the records in Excel. Please note that the searchable date is not necessarily the date of any decision or other event, but it will relate approximately to the period when the case was considered. Owing to software limitations, the searchable date is not available for records relating to the nineteenth century.
Page last modified: 10 July 2008
Page published: 5 February 2003