Restrictions on Common Land Development

Within Flaxton Parish, the Commons cover an extensive area and this is shown on the Extent of Commons map. The road side verges, from hedgerow to hedgerow, on all three main roads into Flaxton are registered as common land. The general extent therefore is as follows:

  1. From the cattle grid at the Strensall end of York Lane to the junction of York Lane with the main street.
  2. The whole length of Cross Lane from Gatehouse to its junction with York Lane.
  3. The full length of the main street and Rice Lane from the cattle grid at Scotchman Lane to the level crossing.
  4. The full length of Oak Busk Lane.
  5. An extensive area of Green to the West of Main Street from the junction of York Lane to The Kell together with an extensive area which includes the cricket ground.

There are few, if any, things which can be done on Common Land without incurring a great deal of complication and expense. The reason for this is that the law requires certain procedures to be carried out for anything which ‘impedes access to the surface’ of the Common. Anything which will impede access requires the consent of the Secretary of State for the Environment under the Law of Property Act. Briefly the procedures to be followed are set out below:

  1. The intention to take Common Land, or impede access, must be published in two newspapers, in three consecutive issues. This can be expensive, depending upon the newspapers used.
  2. Notices must be published locally of the intention (i.e. on notice boards) and a period of 21 days allowed for objections. This notice must give details of the plans and a location where they can be inspected.
  3. Following the date of the last newspaper advertisement, copies of the notice, the relevant extracts from the Commons Register, plans and any other documents are sent to the Secretary of State for the Environment together with a very comprehensive questionnaire.
  4. The Secretary of State may, depending upon the objections received, call a public inquiry and the questionnaire referred to above demands that a suitable venue for this be included in the information. The Secretary of State will consult with the Open Spaces Society so that they may respond and this body can have a strong influence on the outcome of any inquiry.
  5. Copies of any objections will be sent to the applicants together with any comments made by the Open Spaces Society so that they may respond. The applicant is then allowed to reply. Objectors are given the opportunity to comment on these replies.

As you will appreciate the ‘procedure’ is complex and protracted and, at first sight, may appear to be excessively restrictive. However the procedure is designed to protect the environment which, in the case of Flaxton, we all understand as ‘village life’ and it must be assumed that most people who live in Flaxton do so because of the unique special environment which it provides.

Further complications can arise due to a large part of Flaxton being designated a Conservation Area and notes on this topic will be found in other Sheets dealing with Planning Control.