Legal Acts relating to common land

Law and Property Act 1925: Under section 193 of the Law of Property Act 1925, the Lord of the Manor or other person entitled to land subject to rights of common could declare that this section of the act should apply to the land, effectively giving rights of access to the public for air and exercise to the land. In July 1930, Lord Clinton entered into a revocable deed which applied this section of the Act to the Commons and which allowed public access to all parts of the Commons for some 70 years. However, with the passing of the CRoW Act 2000 (see below) this deed was revoked and is no longer effective.

The Commons Registration Act 1965: Under this act it was open to anyone to register land as common land and to register rights over this land. The registrations were initially provisional, but if unchallenged (or not successfully challenged) they became final and became conclusive evidence of the matters registered. The land and rights over it would then be included on a public register, kept by the registration authority, usually the County Council. On the Devon Commons Register, the Pebblebed heaths are registered as commons. Only one ‘right of common’ was registered over Colaton Raleigh and Woodbury Common at this time.

 The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000: Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act in 2000, any land registered as common land is ‘access land’ with the public legally entitled to enter and remain on the land for the purpose of open air recreation. However, a number of constraints exist on the type of activities that can be undertaken. For full details on what is and is not allowed under the CROW Act 2000, please click here.

The Commons Act 2006: Under the Commons Act 2006, there is a prohibition on carrying out any works including the construction of fences, buildings or other structures or the digging of trenches, ditches or embankments or works for the resurfacing of land consisting of the laying of concrete, tarmacadam, coated road stone or similar on the land, without the consent of the appropriate National Authority, which for these purposes is the Planning Inspectorate. To carry out any of these works an application needs to be made and will be determined with regard to the interests of persons having rights to, or occupying the land (particularly those exercising rights of common).

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