Merton Green Action Group


The Sunningwell Case

In a National Test Case, the Suningwell Case, the Law Lords made a judgement to safeguard England's town and village greens. They clarified the criteria for registering land under the Commons Registration Act of 1865.

The Act allows areas of land to be registered as green if LOCAL people have used it 'as of right' for lawful sports and pastimes for at least twenty years.

Five Law Lords unanimously ruled that it is unnecessary when considering whether the use is 'as of right' to enquire into local peoples subjective belief's about who can use the land.

This means that it is enough to show good, objective, evidence that residents have used the area for at least 20 years without having to use force or gain permission. If this is so, the land can be registered as Common Land, and therefore not be built on.

Councillor Mr J Bracken is currently seeking to register the land as Common Land, through his solicitor.

 Village-Green claim at Waterfoot
11 February 2008
                                              Photo: Roger Thomson

Waterfoot Residents’ Association in Rossendale, Lancashire, has applied for green-belt open space, south of Booth Road at Waterfoot, to be registered as a village green. The residents’ association has recently submitted its claim to Lancashire County Council. If registered, the land will be protected from development. At present it is threatened by Lancashire County Council’s plan to build a replacement for Waterfoot Primary School here.

Says our case officer, Nicola Hodgson: ‘This green space is valuable to the local community for informal recreation. It commands impressive views across to the surrounding hills. People visit it for quiet recreation. We sincerely hope that the Residents’ Association succeeds in its efforts to get the land registered as a green, and thus secured, for local people to enjoy, for ever.’