Common Land Could Have Right of Way over it

in Evans -v- Wimbledon & Putney Commons Conservators and Others; Admn 8-Nov-2013, the claimant owned property next to Putney Lower Common. He opposed a proposal to develop further adjoining land, and in particular the grant of access over the Common to the proposed development.

The claimant sought to challenge the agreement by the defendant owner of Wimbledon and Putney commons’ to grant the interested local authority an easement and connected rights over part of the Commons should that authority be granted planning permission to develop an area of its land fully surrounded by the Commons. The Administrative Court rejected the claim as the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act 1871 allowed the defendant to grant the rights that it had agreed to confer. The Court said:

‘Of particular importance in the context of this case is the provision within section 39 which empowers the Defendant ‘to make and maintain such roads and ways as may be in their judgment necessary or proper’. Given the approach to interpretation spelled out above I am satisfied that it is open to the Defendant to create a means of access for the benefit of an area of land adjoining the common provided the means of access so created does not interfere with the ability of members of the public to continue to enjoy the part of the common across which the access is created and provided that the creation of the means of access is consistent with the duties of the Defendant and the overall objectives of the Act.

Other authorities may have similar powers.