Britain’s oldest countryside conservation body has produced a new plan to advise people on how to settle all-too-frequent disputes over the rights of access and use of common land.
The history of common land, and often smaller patches like village greens, goes back into the mist of time, often governed by custom rather than legally binding agreements made back in the days of strip farming and serfdom.
But they are often the bone of contention between local villagers and would-be-developers, who see them as a source of scarce building land, or encroachment by people with properties on their boundaries.
This regularly leads to bitter disputes causing much local ill-feeling so the Open Spaces Society, formed in 1865 for the initial purpose of protecting common land, has produced an advice package called Finding Common Ground, the first-ever guide to how to recognise and take account of local-community interests in common land.
The society was commissioned to draw up the guide by Natural England, the Government quango, and can be studied on http://www.oss.org.uk/publications/free-publications/