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Putting Green or Village Green?

The Supreme Court has held that a golf course can be registered as a village green. This case means that it is not only spare or waste land that can be registered as a village green. Land can be registered as a village green despite also being used for other purposes.

The land had been a golf course for approximately 80 years. Members of the public had used the land for informal recreation, such as walking their dogs, playing children’s games and having picnics. Generally speaking the public would not interfere with games of golf and would stay out of the way of golfers.  It was generally accepted that use by the golfers took precedence to use by the public.

Decisions in the lower courts held that this prevented the land being registered as a village green.  This was on the basis that members of the public were not using it “as of right”.  This has now been overturned by the Supreme Court.

This means that developers will need to be very careful when buying land to which the public have access, even if the land has clearly been used as a golf course or sports field or similar.  The land could still be registered as a village green preventing development.

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