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Planning and regeneration Local Land Charge Searches

Register of Common Land and Town or Village Greens

What is common land?

Almost all common land has an owner – usually a private individual or a local council or a body such as the National Trust. The term ‘common’ doesn’t mean that it is in common ownership or that the public own it at all. Common Land refers to the 'rights' which specific people have, to products of the soil, not ownership of the land. Common land is land which another person is entitled to exercise 'rights of common', and these rights can generally be exercised in common with others. The people who are able to exercise the rights are generally known as commoners.

There are six types of common rights. These have been granted to specific people known as commoners, not the general public. Rights of common can include:

  • Herbage/Pasture – the right to graze animals
  • Pannage – the right to let your pigs go and eat acorns and beech mast
  • Estovers – the right to take fallen branches or bracken
  • Turbary – the right to dig turf or peat for use as fuel or for thatching
  • Piscary – the right to take fish
  • Common in the soil – the right to take stone, sand or minerals.

What are 'town and village greens'?

Town or village greens share a similar history to common land. 'Town and village greens' are usually areas of land within defined settlements or geographical areas which local inhabitants can go onto 'for the exercise of lawful sports and pastimes', such as games, picnics, fêtes and other similar activities as of right for at least 20 years and either a) continue to do so or b) have ceased to do so for not more than said period as may be prescribed. Whilst land forming town or village greens may be privately owned, many greens are owned and maintained by local Parish or Community Councils. Some greens may also have rights of common (i.e. grazing of livestock) over them.

While land forming town and village greens may be privately owned, many greens are owned and maintained by local councils. Some greens may also have 'rights of common', such as grazing of livestock over them.

There are 3 types of town / village greens:

  • statutory greens, 
  • customary greens – i.e. those based on immemorial use, and
  • prescriptive greens – i.e. those based on long user (20 years).

Are there registers of common land and town or village greens for Manchester?

As a Commons Registration Authority, we have a responsibility under the Commons Act 2006 to maintain and keep up-to-date the register of common land and of town and village greens in Manchester.

The register is a statutory register open for inspection by any member of the public in the . There is no charge for this service. Alternatively you can apply for an official search of the register by ticking Enquiry 22 on Form Con29O Optional Enquiries which relates to Common Land and Village Greens.  Usually a solicitor will fill this in and submit it to us although you can do this yourself. The fee for Con29O Question 22 is £9.00 including VAT.

More information and advice on Common Land and Town or Village Greens can be obtained from Open Spaces Society, Natural EnglandDepartment of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)National Trust, and Planning Inspectorate (PINS) .

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