Last year Cooper Estates Strategic Land Limited challenged the decision of Wiltshire Council to register a piece of land as a town and village green arguing that a ‘trigger event’ had occurred which prevented the Council from taking such action.

A Town and Village Green is a piece of land that:

"a significant number of the 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"

If the local community can establish the above it has the right to apply to the council to register the land as a Town and Village Green.

What this means is that once registered the land cannot be developed or encroached upon, so they are considered to thwart unwanted development in a particular area.

The Commons Act however set out measures to protect against vexatious registrations. Not only does the above criteria have to be established, no trigger events which would prevent registration should have occurred.

What are trigger events? Examples of specific trigger events include:

  • The first publication of an application for planning permission for the land.
  • The publication by the local planning authority of a draft local plan or neighbourhood plan proposal which identifies the land for potential development.
  • The adoption or making by the local planning authority of a local plan or neighbourhood plan which identifies the land for potential development.

Cooper Estates challenged the decision stating that a trigger event had occurred, namely the Council had identified the land in its adopted Core Strategy as land within a settlement boundary and as such there is a presumption in favour of development.

As the land had been earmarked for potential development this was held to be a ‘trigger event’ thereby protecting the land against any registration for a Town and Village Green.

This was upheld by the Court of Appeal and the registration of such was quashed therefore preventing any further application from being made unless there is a corresponding terminating event.

This is welcome relief to land owners and developers who hold land for strategic purposes. There have been many cases on Town and Village Greens, but this is a case which clear guidelines as to what can constitute a ‘trigger event’.

All are members of the Planning and Environmental team at Brabners specialising in planning and environmental matters and property due diligence.

Should you have any further questions in relation to this article, please contact any member of our Planning and Environmental team who specialise in planning and environmental matters and property due diligence.