Friends of the Lake District has a long-standing involvement with Common Land and town and village greens in Cumbria, which includes our lobbying and campaigning for their protection.

Although not a new issue, recent cases we have been involved in have increased our awareness that works are being carried out on Common Land and town and village greens without the proper consent or appropriate scrutiny. This includes cases where someone has secured planning consent for the works.

Sometimes people are aware that they need, and then obtain planning consent but do not realise that separate Common Land consent is also necessary. However, in other cases they are unaware, or simply press ahead knowing that there are weaknesses in the reporting and enforcement of Common Land breaches.

This issue is relevant across Cumbria, where we have one third of all the Common Land in the country, meaning its landscape, culture, character and heritage are all heavily influenced by it.

In the Lake District National Park there is the additional dimension of Common Land being one of the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site. Common Land should have extra protection by virtue of the World Heritage Site being a heritage asset of international value.

It is therefore really important that where it is required, including where it is needed alongside planning consent, that Common Land consent is sought. This will help to ensure that the impacts on Common Land are given appropriate consideration. Failure to do this devalues Common Land, risks harm to and loss of Common Land and puts at risk the benefits and value it has for the landscape, our cultural heritage and for society.

We have considered what might help to improve this situation. Whilst legislative or procedural changes might be a longer-term answer, we’re exploring some simpler but more immediate actions and asking key relevant organisations if they will support us in doing so.

This will include raising general awareness of the issue and why it’s important to address it as well as asking relevant local planning authorities to highlight the need for Common Land consent where it is relevant to any planning permission they give.

Keep an eye out for updates on our website, social media and in our newsletters to see how you can help.