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Common land and village greens


We are the Commons Registration Authority for the County of Durham and holds the Registers of all Common Land and Town or Village Greens across the County.

We are responsible for:

  • Maintaining the registers of Common Land and Town or Village Greens
  • Processing applications to register new Town or Village Greens under Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006
  • Processing applications to amend the registers

The Registers are held at:
County Hall
Durham
DH1 5UL
and can be inspected free of charge.  Please contact us to make an appointment.

What is common land?

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

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 permits public access to open countryside including access to common land. Natural England has published maps showing land (including commons) to which the public has access, subject to any short or long term restrictions.

What are town or village greens?

Village Greens are usually areas of land within a locality or a neighbourhood within a locality which are used by local people for lawful sports and pastimes. While land forming Town or Village Greens may be privately owned, many greens are owned and maintained by parish councils. Some greens may also have rights of common (for example, grazing of livestock) over them.

Registering a village green

Anyone wishing to make an application to register land as a new Town or Village Green will need to show that the land has been used:

  • For a period of at least 20 years
  • For the purposes of lawful sports and pastimes
  • 'As of right' (without force, secrecy or permission)
  • By a significant number of inhabitants of a locality, or a neighbourhood within a locality

The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 introduced certain trigger events which exclude the right to register an area of land, and corresponding terminating events which enable an application to be submitted.

Searches of the registers

To find out if an area of land is registered Common Land or Village Green an official search can be made by requesting additional Question 22 on the CON29(O) form as part of a local land charges search. A local land charges search is usually carried out when a property or plot of land is being purchased. 

Alternatively you can contact us directly. You will need to provide a map which clearly identifies the land you wish to search accompanied by a fee of £10.  Cheques should be made payable to Durham County Council.  

Commons Act 2006 - Corrective Applications

From 15 December 2014 partial implementation of Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 in County Durham allows corrective applications to be made to amend the Registers of Common Land and Town or Village Greens in the following circumstances:

  • The correction of a mistake made by us in making or amending an entry in the Registers of Common Land or Town or Village Green (Section 19(2)(a))
  • The removal of buildings/land wrongly registered as Common Land or Town or Village Green (Schedule 2, paragraphs 6-9)

The new Regulations can be viewed at Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2014.

Guidance on making an application and application forms can be downloaded from DEFRA's website at Gov.uk: common land - management, protection and registering to use and fees payable can be viewed in our table of fees.

Please contact us to return your application form and fees.

Notices of applications to de-register common land or village green

Decision Notices

Application 1083 - to de-register Common Land at Low Etherley:

Landowner Statements - village greens

Section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006 allows a landowner to deposit a statement and map which will bring to an end any period of recreational use 'as of right' over land to which the statement applies.

You need to contact us with the appropriate application form and payment listed in our table of fees.

An application can also include a highways statement and declaration under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980. More information on highways statements is available on our website.

The Register of Landowner statements can be viewed on our website at Public Rights of Way and Village Green Landowner Deposits. A paper version of the register is kept at:
County Hall
Durham
DH1 5UL
and can be viewed by appointment.

Table of fees

Provision under which the application is madePurpose of applicationApplication Fee
Section 15A(1)To deposit a Landowner Statement and Map£220 for unconnected parcels of land less than 200 hectares and an additional £32 per hour for larger land holdings.
Please contact us for the correct fee. 
Section 19(2)(a)To correct a mistake made by the AuthorityNo fee
Schedule 2 paragraphs 6 to 9The removal of buildings/land wrongly registered as common land or town or village green

£840 - with effect from Friday 4 May 2018 the fee will increase to £850.

Note: Additional fees will be payable by the applicant if it is clear that an application is not straightforward and requires external legal advice, an informal hearing or Public Inquiry. These fees will be calculated on a cost recovery basis. Similarly, if the application is referred to the Planning Inspectorate for determination a fee will be payable by the applicant to the Planning Inspectorate

Notices for the registration of new town or village greens

Decision notices

Contact us
Common land and village greens
03000 269 703
Our address is:
  • Democratic Services
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UL
0191 383 4206
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