Common land and village greens

There is around 550,00 hectares of registered common land in England and Wales, which makes up 4% of total land. The Countryside Rights of Way Act grants legal right of the public access (on foot) over nearly all common land. 

Common land is land that is in private rather than public ownership, and rights of access are only by certain individuals who live in a certain areas or properties.

These rights may include:

  • walking
  • picnicking
  • bird watching

On common land you cannot:

  • camp on common land
  • light a fire or have a barbecue
  • hold a festival or other event without permission

Town and village greens

A Town or village green is usually land that is used by the local community for sports and pastimes for a period of at least 20 years. Unlike common land, there is no general right of public access over village greens and this is reserved for use by local residents.

A village green may be privately owned, although a number are owned by the local parish council.

Registering a village green

The Commons Act allows applications to be made to register land as a new village green. You will need to show that the land in question has been used:

  • for a period of at least 20 years
  • for the purposes of lawful sports and pastimes
  • 'as of right' (for example, without force, secrecy or permission)
  • by the inhabitants of a locality, or a neighbourhood within a locality

A landowner can also register land as a new village green, in this case, you won't have to demonstrate a set period of use.

Register land as a town or village green on GOV.UK

Common Land and Village Register

We are responsible for maintaining the register of common land and the register of town or village greens.

You can apply for an official search of the register by downloading our easy search form and selecting Q22 from the optional enquiries. Send a copy of the plan showing the area to be searched.

Send your completed application to: Local Land Charges, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, ME4 4TR or email it to landcharges@medway.gov.uk

Find out more about common land, town and village greens on GOV.UK

Landowner statements

Section 15A of the Commons Act 2006 allows a landowner to deposit a statement and map which will bring to an end any period of recreational use 'as of right' over land to which the statement applies.

An application to deposit a statement and map should be made by completing Form CA16.

For more information on the deposit of statements, maps and declarations under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 contact us by emailing landcharges@medway.gov.uk or by phoning 01634 332 733.

Useful links