PLT Masthead 430

Masthead Local Govt - Property

High Court quashes village green registration over 'trigger event'

The High Court has given what is reported to be the first ruling on a ‘trigger event’ for the purposes of town and village green registration.

The case of Cooper Estates Strategic Land Limited v Wiltshire Council [judgment on the Francis Taylor Building website] concerned a decision by Wiltshire Council, as the commons registration authority, under the Commons Act 2006 (as amended) to register land at Royal Wootton Bassett as a town or village green and its subsequent registration of that land.

The subject land was described as “an irregularly, triangular shaped area of some 380 sqm adjacent to Vowley View and Highfold, Royal Wootton Bassett…and appears to be an amenity space in an establishing area of housing, or at least was so until the fencing and gate, which had been installed by the claimant in 2006, was locked in 2015”.

The claimant landowner advanced two grounds of challenge:

  1. The application to register the land was not validly made since Policies CP1 and CP2 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy 2015 – which identified the land for potential development – provided a ‘trigger event’ within s.15C of the 2006 Act. The council as commons registration authority therefore erred in law in determining that the application was valid, in approving it and in registering the land.
  2. The council acted unfairly in failing to arrange for a public inquiry to investigate the issues prior to deciding whether or not to accept the application for registration. In this context it was said by Cooper Estates that the commons registration authority did not properly consider the issue of implied permission and therefore ought to have allowed it to be more fully investigated at inquiry.

David Elvin QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court judge, upheld the claim on the first ground, but rejected the second.

The judge quashed Wiltshire’s decision and ordered that the register be rectified by the deletion of the relevant entry.

Gregory Jones QC and Philip Petchey of Francis Taylor Building acted for Cooper Estates, instructed by Blake Morgan.

Stephen Morgan of Landmark Chambers appeared for Wiltshire, instructed by its legal services team.

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