17 June 2020 | Comment | Article by Kathryn Cooling
A new play area and football stand on a registered village green has taken a step closer to reality now with consent under the Commons Act to proceed.
In the centre of Monmouth lies Chippenham Mead playing field. Chippenham Mead has been enjoyed by local residents and visitors to Monmouth for hundreds of years as a place of recreation and leisure. In 1970 it was registered as a village green.
We have blogged previously about town and village greens and the difficulties that can arise for owners of land registered as a green.
In early 2019, the Property Dispute Resolution team at Hugh James became involved with Chippenham Mead when they were instructed by Monmouthshire County Council, which owns the land, to assist with obtaining consent to do works on the green.
The Council planned to move an existing play area away which was no longer fit for purpose away from a busy main road, to a more suitable location on the green and to update the play facilities. The Council were also seeking approval for the installation of a spectator stand at the Monmouth Town Football Club which is located on the green. The Football Club face demotion if they do not provide certain facilities, including spectator seating.
The issues dated back to 2014 and the last hurdle the Council had was obtaining consent from the Planning Inspectorate to carry out the works.
Town and village greens are protected by section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1857 and section 29 of the Commons Act 1876. The Acts make it a criminal offence, punishable by a fine, to do any act which injures a green or interrupts its use as a place for exercise and recreation or to permanently encroach upon or inclose a green, or to build upon or disturb the soil of a green otherwise than with a view to its better enjoyment.
There is generally no requirement under the legislation relating to commons and greens to obtain consent to carry out works on a green which are not in contravention of sections 12 and 29. An exception to this is where a green is subject to a scheme of management under the Commons Act 1899, which is the case with Chippenham Mead. In such cases section 38 of the Commons Act 2006 applies, which requires consent to be obtained from the Welsh Ministers in Wales or the Secretary of State in England, before works can be carried out.
Hugh James assisted Monmouthshire County Council to submit their applications for consent and respond to representations submitted by the public. Overall, the applications received a large amount of support from local residents with only a small number of objections being received. On 11 June 2020 the Planning Inspectorate announced the news that both the works to relocate the play area and install the football stand had been granted consent.
We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to assist and support Monmouthshire County Council with its efforts in this matter. If you require assistance or advice regarding to a similar issue or any other issue relating to a town or village green, please get in touch using the contact form and we would be happy to discuss your options.