Full scale attack on town and village greens repelled
The Court of Appeal have dismissed a challenge on the law relating to town and village greens which, if successful, would have dramatically limited the ability of local residents to register land as a town and village green. Mr Jones, a local resident, applied for a large area of land lying on the outskirts of Leeds to be registered as a town and village green. Leeds Group Plc, which owned part of the land in question, objected to the proposed registration and Leeds City Council, the registration authority, held a non-statutory public inquiry. The Inspector recommended registration, which Leeds CC accepted.
Leeds Group Plc sought judicial review of that decision on various grounds. The Court of Appeal dismissed the challenge on the basis, first, that the reference in the legislation to inhabitants of a ‘neighbourhood’ who use the land in question, could be read in the plural, such that users of a town and village green could be made up of two or more neighbourhoods. Secondly, although the amendment introducing the word ‘neighbourhood’ took effect on 30 January 2001, an application for registration after that date could still rely on such user occurring before that date. This was not retrospective legislation and not incompatible with Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The decisions of the Court of Appeal are at  EWCA Civ 1447 and  EWCA Civ 1438. The Appellant’s application to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal is pending.
Morag Ellis QC and Clare Parry appeared for Leeds City Council. Robert Williams appeared for the interested party.