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R (Beresford) v Sunderland City Council [2003] UKHL 60

Judicial Review - Land could be registered as town or village green - Its use by inhabitants for more than 20 years for lawful sports and pastimes had been ‘as of right’ - Commons Registration Act 1965

28 November 2003

The area of land known as the Sports Arena was close to the town centre of Washington, Tyne and Wear. It was acquired by the Washington Development Corporation (WDC), which grassed it over in 1974. It had never been fenced off and had been used by the public for the purpose of recreation at least since 1977. In that year the WDC installed a double row of benches sufficient to accommodate 1,100 people around the north, west and south perimeters. The Arena was transferred from the WDC to the Commission for the New Towns and then in 1996 to the respondent council. After the council granted planning permission to develop the land in 1998, the appellant resident applied for the Arena to be registered as a town or village green under the Commons Registration Act 1965. The council refused registration on the ground that the use of the land by the inhabitants for more than 20 years for lawful sports and pastimes had not been ‘as of right’, as required by s 22 of the Act, because it had bee...

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