What are village greens and common land?

Town and village greens share a similar history to common land. However, they are defined separately for the purposes of the Commons Registration Act 2006.

What are village greens used for?

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. Typically, these might include organised or ad-hoc games, picnics, fetes and other similar activities.

Who owns them?

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.

What is common land?

Common land is land, usually in private ownership, that has rights of common over it.

The main features of common land are that it is generally open, unfenced and remote - particularly in the upland areas of England and Wales. However, there are some lowland areas of common, particularly in the south-east of England, that are important for recreational use.

Rights of common can include:

  • Grazing sheep or cattle (herbage)
  • Taking peat or turf (turbary)
  • Taking wood, gorse or furze (estovers)
  • Taking of fish (piscary)
  • Eating of acorns or beechmast by pigs (pannage)

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