Why you should protect Flaxton Green and your rights
Most of Flaxton Green is common land. People often think that means that we all share the ownership or that it is owned by the Flaxton Green Gait Owners, neither of which is correct.
It is legally owned by the Public Trustee on behalf of the beneficial owners, the Flaxton Green Gait Owners, because that is what the law requires to happen when there are multiple owners in unequal shares.
Some frequently asked questions and answers:
I live with the Green in front of my house, so can I legally keep other people or vehicles away from there?
Everyone has the right to walk across the Green. You have no right to stop or deter others by putting up fences, stones or other materials.
Motor vehicles are permitted to drive across the Green to park there, provided it is within 15 yards of the highway, but not otherwise. You cannot reserve that parking space except by parking there yourself. This also includes entrance tracks unless you have established a right of way for yourself.
If you have not established a right of way for yourself and found your car was blocked in by a large lorry parked on the common land next to the highway, so called the Police to get it moved, you might find that the lorry driver had committed no offence, but you had!
How do I establish a right of way for myself?
You could ask the landowner to grant you an easement, but that would require getting the agreement of all Flaxton Green Gait Owners then drawing up the easement and paying any legal expenses of the Public Trustee.
If you have been using a track without permission of the landowner for 20 years or more, you have established a prescriptive right to do so and need take no further action to enjoy this right.
However, if you sell the property, then it would be a good idea for the purchaser to be made aware of this prescriptive right and ideally include it in the entry in the property register.
I had an assurance from the Flaxton Green Gait Owners Committee that they would never charge for using my access across the common land, so why pay any charges for adding this to the Land Register?
Flaxton Green Gait Owners are not the legal landowner and cannot therefore give legal authority to drive across the common land. The law allowing a landowner to make a charge was scrapped in 2006. Charges are therefore irrelevant, but securing your right of way gives protection against Road Traffic Act offences and allows you to assert your rights over others.
My entrance track across the Green is becoming muddy and overgrown. Why can’t I tarmac and kerb it to give a neat appearance like other properties nearby?
This relates to the grazing rights of the Flaxton Green Gait Owners and public interest in the management of the Green for nature conservation and conservation of the landscape. Such actions are possible, but need the permission of the Secretary of State via the Planning Inspectorate, who will take into account the views of all interested parties. The other properties cannot extend their kerbed or tarmacked areas, and only repair with the same materials.
The Green in front of my house is very wet and boggy, can I put in a drain so that water does not affect my entrance?
It is illegal, without permission from the Planning Inspectorate to carry out ‘restricted works’. These would include a drain. This also applies to the water and electricity utilities. However, small scale temporary works may be exempted by the landowner, or in Flaxton, the Green Gait Owners acting as beneficial owners. Whenever the works involve disturbing the surface of the Green, you are advised to speak to the Green Gait Owners.
I like the grass on the Green in front of my house kept short and not full of weeds. My neighbour likes his grass long and says the weeds are wildflowers. This makes the village look a mess. Why do you allow it?
If there were still cattle grazing the common land, then a grass sward with a range of wildflowers would be present. Flaxton Green is recognised as a Site of Interest for Nature Conservation. Flaxton Green Gait Owners try to keep the Green with vegetation suitable for grazing animals and leave grassed areas uncut until wildflowers have set seed; so not before the start of July. Areas mown earlier and regularly detract from Environmental Stewardship payments that contribute to management of Flaxton Green. However, the differences of opinion are respected and hope that at some stage a consensus view can be established to get a more even approach. Meanwhile, please just mow in front of your house. If you want to reseed bare areas, then we have a supply of suitable seed.