an anomaly in the law will now have security of access due to
government action. New procedures setting out how people can obtain a
legal right to drive over common land to reach their homes are now in
Until now, people who could only obtain access to their premises via
common land would have to negotiate with the owner of the common to
obtain an 'easement'. Despite the fact that vehicular use had gone
unchallenged for many years, owners of premises faced having to pay
large sums of compensation (sometimes up to 10% of the value of the
property) in return for the grant of an easement.
The new rules provide for the creation of a statutory easement to
which the owners of commons cannot object provided the conditions are
met and procedures complied with. In return, they will receive a
reasonable sum of compensation. Owners of premises in existence on or
before 31 December 1905 will pay 0.25% of the value of the premises.
Owners of premises coming into existence between 1 January 1906 and
30 November 1930 will pay 0.5%. Owners of all other premises will pay
2%. These are one-off payments, and the right of access will benefit
current and future owners of the premises.
Commenting on the new procedures which are set out in regulations
under section 68 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, Alun
'These regulations strike a fair balance between landowners and the
owners of premises served by the vehicular access. A permanent right
will be created and landowners will receive reasonable compensation.'
1. Section 68 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 applies
to all land over which it is an offence to drive. This might be
common, or similar, land, registered town and village green or
certain other land. Because it is an offence to drive over the
land, rights of vehicular access through long use (over 20 years -
usually referred to as prescriptive rights) cannot normally be
acquired. This fact has often been overlooked when properties on or
adjacent to common land have been built, with the result that many
owners of such properties have found that they do not have a legal
right of vehicular access to their home, and are faced with having
to pay a large sum of money to secure such a right.
2. The regulations under section 68 provide owners of premises with
a means of obtaining a statutory easement allowing vehicular access
to their premises. They also deal with issues such as the criteria
to be met in order to apply for easements, how to apply and contain
dispute resolution procedures. They also provide for compensation
to be paid by the owner of the premises to the owner of the common.
3. The regulations came into effect on 4 July 2002.