The Supreme Court has finally settled the TVG application concerning West Beach at New Haven. The Supreme Court unanimously decided that the beach should not be registered as a town and village green, even though members of the public have used it for recreation for over 80 years. The law lords based their decision on two reasons. First, the relevant byelaws affecting the port permitted members of the public to use the beach, and hence they had an implied licence. Although the byelaws did not give express permission for the activities, the lords held a phrase such as “dogs must be on a lead” would imply to the public that they could bring their dogs onto the beach. Second, the Supreme Court held that the Commons Act 2006 did not enable the public to acquire rights which were incompatible with powers parliament conferred on a statutory undertaker to use land for a specified purpose. Had the beach been registered as a TVG, some of the owner’s activities, such as dredging the harbour, would have become a criminal offence. Landowners and statutory undertakers will no doubt breathe a big sigh of relief.
by Freddie Jackson, Associate