The purpose of this research for Defra, which was undertaken in 2009, was to ‘examine a sample of the sites which have been registered as town or village greens since January 2004 as well as a sample of those that have not been registered’. The research team was led by Christopher Short with contributions from Professor Steve Owen, Carol Kambites, Owain Jones, Nick Lewis and Ken Taylor of Asken Ltd.
The project examined the character of application sites, and explored whether the sites were earmarked for development in local development plans or subject to planning applications. The research concluded that there is no longer, if there ever was, a typical town or village green. It is evident that these sites can occur in a wide range of situations and locations across England. The same can be said of unsuccessful applications as they occur in sites with similar characteristics and situations. The research highlighted the problematic existence of two parallel systems between which there is minimal communication: the TVG registration process and planning system. There is no legal requirement for one system to inform the other at any stage as the presence of an application under one system does not affect the legal process of the other, although the outcomes do. There would appear to be a need for explicit interaction, albeit not integration, between the two systems and consideration might be given to the following five possible points of contact.
Having examined the findings of the research, as well as feedback from local authorities and others, Defra has concluded that there is sufficient evidence to justify a review of the existing system, with a view to exploring possible changes. Defra has therefore announced plans to consult stakeholders in Spring 2010 both on whether there is a need for reform of the registration system, and the options for reform that exist.