DEFRA details village green consultation responses

A majority of respondents to a consultation on revamping the process for registering new town and village greens (TVGs) agreed that applications should be 'sifted' to weed out vexatious bids, it has been revealed.

Village Greens: registration process under review
Village Greens: registration process under review

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) this week revealed a breakdown of responses to its consultation on changes to the law on registering land as a town or village green.

Seventy-six per cent of 192 respondents agreed that an initial "sift" system would deter speculative or vexatious bids for village green status. However, some responding authorities feared such a process would introduce a further administrative layer, leading to extra delays.

Just over half (52 per cent) of respondents agreed with ministers that applications for the registration of greens should be ruled out for sites designated for development in a proposed or adopted local or neighbourhood plan, to give local communities "the right to develop without the threat of TVG applications holding up or preventing development".

Elsewhere, 63 per cent of respondents to the consultation said they believed registering authorities should be allowed to charge a fee of up to £3,000 for processing applications.

Respondents were split on whether a "character test" for the land in question should be introduced for validating applications. Nearly 50 per cent of respondents opposed the idea, with arguments including the use of land being as important as its appearance. The proposal has since been dropped.

More than 70 per cent of respondents supported proposals that would allow landowners to produce maps and declarations to protect themselves against future applications to register their land as a green. Such a move would allow them to grant the public to use their land without risking future bids for the land to be registered as a green.

The Growth and Infrastructure Bill, published last month, includes measures to create new procedures for landowners to terminate rights previously acquired by local people to use particular sites for lawful sports and pastimes.

It would also end people’s rights to apply to register land in England as a village green, if the application seemed to come in response to a "trigger event" such as a planning application in relation to the land or a development plan identifying the land for possible development.

The Planning Officers Society, the Local Government Association and the Planning Inspectorate were among the bodies that responded to the consultation, which ran from 25 July to 17 October last year.

Town and village green consultation: Summary of responses can be read here.

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