Conveyancing explained – What constitutes a common land or village green

Conveyancing Solicitors - including those recommended by Fridaysmove – are sometimes asked about the law relating to village greens. But most people would not immediately think of this in connection with Leeds.

However in the recent case Leeds Group Plc v Leeds City Council, the High Court was asked to consider an application relating to a piece of land known as Yeadon Banks, Yeadon on the outskirts of Leeds, which the City Council had registered as a 'town or village green. ' The Court dismissed an application by a landowner for amendment of the register of common land  and village greens following the registration by the local authority of the landowner's land (land) on the register as a class c town green under the Commons Registration Act 1965. This case is not only important to those conducting conveyancing in Leeds but all UK conveyancing solicitors.

In this case the landowner acknowledged that a number of inhabitants had used the land for twenty years prior to the application for registration for lawful sports and pastimes, and continued to do so at the date of the application. The crux of the issue in the case was whether the inhabitants were inhabitants of "a neighbourhood within a locality" within the meaning of the Commons Registration Act
The property owner:

  • Challenged whether the locality that the applicant for registration had cited constituted a locality under limb two; and
  • Argued that the inhabitants were inhabitants of two neighbourhoods, rather than one neighbourhood.

The Court decided that notwithstanding that the inhabitants using the land were from two neighbourhoods, this did not defeat the application for registration of the land as a town green. It also found that the land cited as a locality constituted a locality under limb two.

George Laurence QC and Jane Evans-Gordon (instructed by DLA Piper UK LLP of Princes Exchange, Prices Square Leeds LS1 4BY) for the Claimant
Morag Ellis QC (instructed by Karen Blackmore, Solicitor, Leeds City Council, Civic Hall Leeds LS1 1UR) for the Defendant

This case has recently been upheld by the Court of Appeal.

This case is a further body blow for landowners seeking to overturn a registration of their land as a common or village green. It is also for conveyancing solicitors to be aware that this is the first direct authority on the meaning of neighbourhood. This case can be expected to be cited in further cases in relation  to common land and Village Greens.