Molesey Hurst ©John Inglis
The Thames Path ©John Inglis Hedge Brown Butterfly ©Mick Rock Mute Swans at Molesey Hurst ©John Inglis Wild Carrot in bud on Hurst Meadows ©John Inglis Hampton Ferry ©John Inglis

Click photos to enlarge

Commons Registration

Following information from the Open Spaces Society lawyers, it seems we will have to rest our case and accept we won't be able to secure the best protection for Hurst Park through having it put on the Commons Register.

"Under the updated Commons legislation of 2006, the only period of time to be taken into account is the 20 years preceding the application - a point recorded in our report of the November 18 meeting. Until the 2006 Commons Act, under the provisions of the preceding 1965 Commons Registration Act, it was possible to look at earlier periods when making an application citing 'customary use' but this is no longer allowed.

"As open land has come increasingly under pressure for housing, especially in this part of the UK, the law on commons and village greens has become more restrictive and this has been reflected more recently in the 2013 Growth and Infrastructure Act."

We had no authority to address Surrey's Planning and Regulatory Committee, and our evidence in support of our application was missing from the county councillors' agenda papers. Although our division member Cllr Ernest Mallett spoke on our behalf, a vote to reject our application was carried.

But we can say we have put Hurst Park up the agenda of the County Council, and members should now have a new appreciation of its importance to the local community. And we can say that we gave it our very best shot.

Please click here for a full report from the meeting.

UPDATE, 24 JULY 2014

Surrey County Council has finally sent through the opinion from its Counsel objecting to the application we made in October 2011 to have Molesey Hurst (the Park and the Meadows) placed on the Commons Register as a New Town or Village Green.

You can read this opinion and our response here.


Putting Hurst Park on the commons register as a 'New Village Green' is something that the community can try, working together. It is the best way to safeguard public access to the land and to keep it as it is: open and used by all local people for recreation and leisure. Land registered as a Green has a high degree of protection from fencing, disposal and other change or disturbance that might interfere with the characteristics of the landscape and public enjoyment of an open space which has long been used by local people for recreation and leisure.

The application was submitted at Surrey County Hall in Kingston in October 2011, and the County Council advertised the application.

The bundle of documents that made up the submission included the Form 44 Commons Registration application, additional information on the history of Molesey Hurst, and in all 135 evidence statements from local people who had used and enjoyed the area for at least 20 years. As our target was 100 of these forms, we were delighted to have exceeded it.

We received objections from Elmbridge Borough Council's legal and property department and in our turn we put in a rebuttal to those objections. We have been informed by Surrey County Council that there will be a legal opinion and a hearing, but we don't yet know the timescale for the meeting of Surrey's Planning and Regulatory Committee, where the matter will be determined.

Please click here to see the document with objections from Elmbridge and our rebuttals to those objections.

Please click here for the application document with additional information that accompanied the application.

Many of the descriptions of Hurst Park and what it means to residents were heartfelt and inspired - it is certainly a greatly loved riverside park. Some writers described how they'd known it over three generations - as children, as parents and as grandparents.

We also made a case for regarding this area as common land from time immemorial, having researched its history. Molesey Hurst had a tradition as common grazing land and as a public place for events, spectacles, sporting activities, high days and holidays of all kinds. It's been famous - and infamous - since the 17th century. It's a fascinating history and you can see more about it on our History page, top menu.