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Ask The Legal Expert: De-registering Common Land

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"A section of my land – an irregular plot of less than 100sqm – is registered as common land and I am keen to try to change this since it is a natural access point for me. How can I change the legal status?"

This is possible and the options available to you as landowner have now widened under the Commons Act 2006.

The two main routes you can take are:

  • to obtain an order of deregistration and exchange from the National Authority or
  • to successfully argue that the land was mistakenly registered as common land under the Commons Registration Act, 1965

The first option will involve applying for the land in question to be de-registered and removed from the common land register.

If the area of land was more than 200sqm then you would need to propose a replacement area of land that could be registered as common land in its place, in order for your application to be successful.

Since your ear-marked plot is less than 200sqm then your application may simply include a suggested replacement area – which, of course, you must own, or have consent to offer.

Your second option is to make an application arguing that the land was mistakenly registered as common land in the first place. So, you may bring an application if the land was provisionally registered as common land under the 1965 Act and the registration was not referred to a Commons Commissioner to consider.

You will also need to successfully argue that immediately before its provisional registration under the 1965 Act the land was not subject to rights of common, was not waste land belonging to a manor, was not a town or village green and did not fit one of the descriptions within section 11 of the Inclosure Act 1845 - which includes gated and stinted pastures, land held in severalty by joint tenants and equivalent lands.

If you are successful in your application, the registration authority will remove the plot from its register of common land and you won’t need to propose a replacement area.

This is a highly technical area and it is vital that you seek early professional advice to ensure that the application is submitted containing all of the correct evidence required for a successful case prior to the deadline.

Our Rural Practice team is on hand for tailored and professional legal support. 

For further advice, please contact our specialist Rural Practice solicitors in:

  • Swansea: 01792 773773
  • Cardiff: 02920 225472
  • Carmarthen: 01267 234022
  • Caerphilly: 02920 860628
  • Cowbridge: 01446 771742
  • Haverfordwest: 01437 764723
  • Fishguard: 01348 873671

The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation.