The Department for Communities and Local Government has laid a draft order before Parliament to extend the circumstances in which development can pre-empt an application to register a new town or village green in England. The draft Commons (Town and Village Greens) (Trigger and Terminating Events) Order 2013 is subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, so it must be approved by a resolution of each house before it comes into force: those resolutions are likely to be passed over the next couple of months, probably with a short debate in one or both houses.

Section 16 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 amended the Commons Act 2006, to prevent applications to register greens on land where the development approval process had already been set in train. The most obvious example is where an application is made for planning permission on land: once that application is publicised (e.g. by notice on site) then it acts as a ‘trigger event’ which makes it no longer possible to apply to register that land as a green. The block on registration remains indefinitely (if the development takes place), or until a ‘terminating event’ occurs: again the most obvious is where planning permission is granted, but the development is not begun within the time allowed by the permission.

New Schedule 1A to the 2006 Act sets out a number of statutory mechanisms by which development consent can be granted, and the associated trigger and terminating events. It also confers the same protection from registration where land is designated for development in local plans. However, Schedule 1A was not comprehensive, and new section 15C(5) of the 2006 Act enables the Secretary of State to amend or extend the list. This is what the draft order will do, to specify new trigger and terminating events arising from local development orders and neighbourhood development orders, and from applications for infrastructure works under the Transport and Works Act 1992 (such as railway, tram or guided busway schemes). None of these development consent mechanisms is used particularly frequently (no neighbourhood development order has yet been granted, but some are in the pipeline), but the provisions are logical additions to those included in the 2013 Act. The only surprise is the omission of road schemes under the Highways Act 1980, but this may be because most road schemes are now authorised under other powers which are already addressed in Schedule 1A.

Once approved by Parliament, the Secretary of State may make the order, and it comes into force on the day after it is made (see article 1(1) of the draft order).