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Commons and village greens

Herefordshire Council was selected by Defra to be a pilot authority for the introduction of the 2006 Commons Act. Part 1 of the Act relates to registrations and will involve modernisation and rectification of the common land and village green registers and plans.

What is the Commons Act 2006?

Schedule 3 of the Commons Act 2006 and Part 4 of the Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2008 made provision for updating the commons registers during a transitional period to capture events since 1970 which have not yet been registered. This is to ensure that the registers are accurate and reliable records and form a basis for improved management.

The events which may be registered during the transitional period are:

  • The creations, surrender, variation, apportionment, transfer or extinguishments of a right of common
  • Legal events affecting registered land or registered rights of common, such as a compulsory purchase order or the giving of any land in exchange
  • Ratification of registration mistakes under the Commons Registration Act 1965.

The transitional period began in Herefordshire on 1 October 2008 and ended on 30 September 2010.

There is no need to re-register rights of a common already held in the Commons Register.

What is common land?

Common land is land, usually in private ownership, over which certain people have certain rights and on which certain restrictions have been placed. The main features of common land are that it is generally open, unfenced and unimproved grassland and located mainly in the upland areas of England and Wales.

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 people who are able to exercise the rights listed above are generally known as 'commoners'.

There are nearly 200 commons in Herefordshire. Some are privately owned, some have no known owner and some the council own. They vary in size from a few square yards to hundreds of acres.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 permits public access to open countryside including access to common land. Access is on foot only. You can walk dogs on common land, but they must be kept under control at all times, and at certain times of the year must be kept on a lead so as not to disturb nesting birds.

Conclusive maps for all areas showing the land (including commons) to which the public have access, including the open access rights which are now in operation in all regions subject to any short or long term restrictions that may apply, are available on the Natural England website.

How do I register or change details about a common?

To register or change details about a common, please download the relevant form. 

For help with completing these forms, please read Defra’s guidance to applicants in the pilot areas.

If you have any queries about which form to complete, please contact us at:

How much does it cost to register common rights?

What is a town or village green?

Town or village greens share a similar history to common land, however, they are defined separately for the purposes of the Commons Registration Act 1965.

Village greens are usually areas of land within defined settlements or geographical areas which local people can use for leisure activities. While 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 (for example, grazing of livestock) over them.

How do I register land as a town or village green?

You can register new land as a town or village green under Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006. You will need to apply to us as Commons Registration Authority at:

You will need to prove that the land has been used 'as of right' for a period of 20 years. 'As of right' means that you have used the land without let or hindrance or force.

How do I view application notices under the 2006 Commons Act?

How do I view decision notices under the 2006 Commons Act?