Town and village greens

1. How do I search the registers

To search for common land or village greens in Brighton & Hove, contact Brighton & Hove City Council.

2. Property searches

Before buying a property it is wise to check whether it sits on, or near, a town or village green. This may be included in your survey, but you can also check the registers yourself.

Using the registers you can check whether:

  • The property is on land registered as common land or a village green
  • Any ‘rights of common’ exist on that land.

The written register will reveal the name of the owner of the town or village green and tell you about who has rights of common over the land.

Find out how to apply for a village green search.

3. How to apply

Applications go through a three-stage process:

Stage 1

If you wish to register land as a village green, please first visit the Defra website. This includes guidance notes and an application form to download – the ‘Town and Village Green Registration Application form’:

You also will need to supply the following documents:

  1. A map showing the boundaries of the proposed village green.

  2. A map outlining the area that local users of the land come from.

  3. A completed Statutory Declaration. This is included in the Defra form above, and must be witnessed by a solicitor or magistrate.

  4. Evidence forms or letters of support from residents. These describe when and how residents use this land – please download and print copies for each resident supporting the application. They should all be submitted together by the person organising the application:

    Download the evidence form

  5. Return all completed documentation to:

    Rights of Way Team
    East Sussex County Council
    County Hall
    St Anne’s Crescent
    East Sussex BN7 1UE

If you have any queries regarding your application please email or call 0345 6080 193.

Stage 2

Once we receive your application, it is publicised and a period for people to comment on the application is opened. It may be necessary to hold a hearing to determine your application. The person hearing the matter will then write a report and recommend whether or not the land should be registered as a village green.

Stage 3

A Panel of County Councillors with special responsibility for these applications – the Commons and Village Green Registration Panel – has the final say about whether or not village green status is granted. They consider the report then write to all parties concerned to confirm the final decision.

Commons and Village Green Registration Panel

4. Claiming a new town or village green

The Commons Act 2006 allows for applications to be made to register land as a new village green. You will need to show that the land in question has been used:

  • For a period of at least 20 years
  • For the purposes of lawful sports and pastimes
  • ‘As of right’ (for example, without force, secrecy or permission)
  • By the inhabitants of a locality, or a neighbourhood within a locality.

Alternatively, a landowner may voluntarily register land as a new village green, in which case, it is not necessary to demonstrate a set period of use.

If the land you wish to register as a village green is close to the county border or to Brighton & Hove, other local authorities may be responsible for dealing with your application. To check which local authority is responsible, please contact the Rights of Way team.

5. Town and village greens in East Sussex

Town and Village Greens are usually areas of land within defined settlements or geographical areas which are used for sports and pastimes.

Unlike common land, there is no general right of public access over village greens, which are instead reserved for use by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood or locality.

A town or village green may be privately owned, although in practice many greens are owned by the local parish council. Some greens may also have rights of common over them.

The registers of common land and town and village greens in East Sussex are held at County Hall in Lewes. The registers are formed of a written record that describes each piece of land, and a set of maps map with all registered common land and village greens marked on them. These can be viewed by contacting the Rights of Way team.