What is Common Land?
Common land is sometimes used to describe land in public ownership or land that everyone has access to. In fact it is neither. Land must be legally registered as a ‘Common’ before this description applies.
The Common Land and Village Green Registers
As a Commons Registration Authority, we are responsible for maintaining the Registers of Common Land and Village Greens. This register is a statutory document (Commons Registration Act, 1965) and shows all such registered land in our area.
The register lists all units of Common Land/Village Greens in three parts:
Part 1: Describes the land and its boundaries, details the date it became common land or a village green, and who registered it.
Part 2: Shows who has common rights over the land and what those rights are, for example, sheep or cattle grazing, the right to remove gravel and stone.
Part 3: Details who owns the land (if registered).
Buying Common Land
If you are planning to buy a piece of land, you may need to carry out a search of the Register of Common Land & Village Greens to ensure that there are no rights of commons attached to the land.
If you are not using a solicitor, please complete a CON29O form, available from a law stationers. Please submit duplicate copies of form CON29O and an Ordnance Survey plan of the property on which you wish to search, along with the fee of £4.50 (inclusive of VAT.)
The result of the submitted search will show any entries in the different parts of the register.
Please submit your Common Land Search to:
Local Land Charges
DX115710 Southampton 17
Remember to include:
- form CON29O in duplicate
- plans of the land in duplicate
- the search fee of £4.50
Common Land and the Law
People often think that any person can enter common land. This is not always the case, but under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 there is now a public right of access to nearly all common land.
The laws that apply to common land are often the same as for any other piece of private land, except for certain people who have ‘commoners’ rights’. This is a complex part of the law, and readers should seek local advice what they think might be common land before using it.
Commons pre-date parliament, and even the monarchy. They are left over from the times when land was mainly 'wild' and ownerless. The manorial system appointed owners to the land but the peasantry kept their customary rights – ‘commoners’ rights’ – which included activities like collecting firewood, fishing or grazing their animals.