Town and Village Greens – think again…
Longer term readers might recall that we flagged earlier last year the growing use of Town and Village Green (“TVG”) legislation as a way to block proposed developments by having all or part of the lands classed as a TVG. The definition of TVG is widely interpreted and goes far beyond what would typically be thought of as a village green. Even a swamp, a beach and some derelict industrial land have been held to be TVGs.
Stop Press: The Court of Appeal is about to rule on whether the 2000 Act’s requirement for 20 years’ public use cannot apply (in whole or in part) to use before the Act took effect.
It appears that the Government has sat up and taken notice that the extension of the TVG concept by the Courts poses a real risk to the Government’s requirements for more housing.
The current emphasis of the proposals appears to be restricting the concept of a TVG to the chocolate box example that the phrase “village green” brings to mind. There is an added emphasis on weeding out tactical manoeuvres at an early stage. Even if a TVG application ultimately fails, in these difficult economic times, any project delay can make a huge difference between profit and loss for a developer.
The current proposals include:
- Limiting TVGs to “open” and “unenclosed” lands.
- A requirement that potential TVG land must be uncultivated, including during the previous 20 years.
- Prohibitions against registration of a claim where a planning application is being processed.
- Prohibitions against registration of a claim where there is an existing planning consent in place which has not expired.
- Prohibitions against registration of a claim during a planning appeal period.
- An ability for landowners to lodge definitive plans, along with a declaration against them having been used for TVG qualifying pastimes. There will be an ability for interested parties to appeal such a notice in a similar manner to the current right of light obstruction notices regime. The notices would need to be renewed every 10 years.
- An application fee of £1,000, which would be refundable if the TVG claim is successful.
On the flip-side, there is also a proposal to bring in a "local green spaces" designation to safeguard important urban green spaces, however, details for this are rather vague at the moment.
Watch this space….