Sport and recreation in open spaces: Use of land for recreational purposes ‘as of right’ for the local inhabitants?

Further to a recent enquiry from a University colleague about the forthcoming appeal in Barkas v North Yorkshire County Council, (registration of a town or village green under the Commons Act 2006) the Appeal (in the Supreme Court today) contains (in the view of the writer) a short point:

What is the legal status of use made by the public (or local inhabitants) of a recreation ground provided pursuant to an express statutory power (a raft of public statutes dating back to the Public Health Act 1875 and earlier – the last station on the branch line being the Commons Act 2006), and whether the use could be use ‘as of right’?

Application had been made by either North Yorkshire County Council or Scarborough Council to build houses and other local amenities on the playing field (at Helredale, Whitby). What are the conferred rights on the local inhabitants to ‘indulge in lawful sport and pastimes’? When does a statutory right or licence to use a ‘recreation ground’ arise? Those in the neighbourhood and inhabitants, having enforceable rights to use a recreation or sports ground, the question of when and how that right (by licence, trust or otherwise) arises, is core to this appeal.

This appeal runs today and tomorrow, and should be of great interest to those promoting Sport and Exercise in Education and to the public, and those interested in Public and administrative law.

First Instance decision:

Court of Appeal decision:

The live hearing in the Supreme Court today:

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