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Commons Links UK

on Sat, 09/03/2011 - 14:26

Land-based (& place-based) Commoning spaces in the UK


1.3 million acres of common space in England and Wales.



Chailey Commons |

  • local nature reserve of 450 acres of heath.
  • has a common land status, escaping 18th century enclosure acts.
  • nature reserve management committee responsible for managing and taking care of the space
  • Chailey Commons Society is only resource to promote the welfare and conserve the future of Chailey Commons.
  • funded by??



Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons: |

  • 256 acres worth of nature reserve, known for the numerous species of birds and butterflies it houses
  • refuge for wildlife, consisting of woodland, heath, ponds and houses
  • friends of the commons and Tunbridge wells manage the preservation of this public open space, aiming to make it a place to enjoy for the generations to come, as well as a local family putting money into it to make it more accessible, clearing footpaths etc.
  • bequeathed to the council when its owner died in 1921.



Dartmoor Common

  • 88,900 acres of common land, with a National Park status.
  • since 1984, everyone has access, and animals are free to graze.
  • protected and sustained by an elected Dartmoor Commons Council, their aims: conservation and enhancement of natural beauty of commons, and enable it to be used as a recreational space for the public, while also promoting livestock on it.


New Forest Common |

  • 37,500 hectares worth of forest and open land space between Bournemouth and Southampton.
  • ecology kept up through the grazing of the 500 local commoners livestock on the land.
  • to be a commoner of this land, one must own or rent land with commoner rights attached.
  • land overlooked by Commoners’ Defence Association, including the Young Commoners and U16 Colts Council.


Westmill Wind Farm

  • UK’s largest communally owned wind farm. Based in Watchfield, Oxforshire, consisting of 5 wind turbines.
  • generates renewable energy for over 2,500 homes, which is sold, and the money given to its members.
  • set up in 2008.
  • members receive annual interest on their investment.
  • Westmill's success has demonstrated that ordinary people can co-operate to achieve what politicians talk about.
  • has 2374 members who act as the board of the co-op.


Other communally owned wind-farms: Baywind Energy, Fenland green power, Isle of skye renewables, Great Glen wind energy, Kilbraur wind energy, Boyndie wind farm.


The Co-op |

  • communally owned business, therefore every share holder gets a return on the profits in either cash or vouchers, according to choice.
  • one gains a share through the earning of points by shopping at the coop.
  • members are encouraged to donate some of this into a community coop fund, to help give something back to their communities.
  • each member has a say in how it is run.
  • hold exclusive member-only events.
  • offering Food, Travel, Banking, Insurance, Pharmacy, Funeralcare, Legal Services, Electrical and Beds.


Organisations supporting the Commons

National Community Land Trust Network

A CLT is a non-profit, community-based organisation run by volunteers that develops housing or other assets at permanently affordable levels for long-term community benefit. It is a cost-driven model, where the CLT ensures that the occupiers to pay for the use of buildings and services at prices they can afford. The difference between the cost of the home or asset and the market value are permanently locked in by the CLT who holds the asset or equity in trust for long-term community benefit.




Commonweal project |

  • Andy Wightman
  • believing that the commons were stolen from the Scottish People, taken by lords, who the poor were not able to fight as didn’t have money to hire lawyers to fight back.
  • aim of organisation: to identify and restore Scottish commons to their rightful owners, giving a directory of all such spaces on the website.
  • ‘Common Good Fund’ for each council in Scotland.
  • 196 boroughs in which there are the following types of commons spaces.
  • Commonties
  • Greens
  • Loans
  • Scattalds
  • Common mosses
  • Crown Commons




Lambeth Council |

  • Desire to tackle joblessness as the prime source of poverty, poor health and education, and crime, through creating a space online (wiki) for the commoning of ideas, knowledge and a say in how the council is run.
  • End result: co-operative council, with mixed and sustainable communities, greater wellbeing financially and physically, creating a safe place where people feel empowered.



  • organisation dedicated to promoting commoning in the Cumbria district. Aim: improve viability of hill farming on common land, thus producing more naturally and traditionally reared
  • see commons spaces as important to the wider public for access, recreation, clean water, biodiversity and carbon storage etc.



Open Spaces

  • aim: to protect, better and increase number of common spaces for its members in England and Wales. 
  • charity organisation dedicated to helping its members locate and protect their local common spaces.
  • oldest conservation charity, with memorable saves such as the conservation of Hampstead Heath., but main work in creating and preserving public footpaths.
  • based in Oxfordshire.
  • involved with local authorities and government in designating common spaces and making them accessible to the public, having influence on the government’s legislations surrounding these spaces.

  • brings together people who have a passion for home-grown food, including schools, companies and communities.
  • 2 categories under which one can fall: one who has land or tools and advice to share or one who needs land to cultivate their food.
  • no cost.
  • formed in 2009, now has over 60,000 active members.
  • campaign for change in laws surrounding the ownership of land and more free land for the community.
  • have an online forum, for the share of knowledge, tips, questions etc. to help in the creation of micro-communities.



  • Network of people interested in growing healthy and sustainable food and creating more spaces in the capital where this can be done.
  • offers practical help in getting people‘s community food growing spaces running, grants, training and support to groups wanting to establish community food growing projects as well as advice to landowners.
  • aim: to create 2012 more community food growing spaces by the end of 2012.
  • a partnership initiative between London Food Link, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and the Big Lottery's Local Food Fund.


Transition Together, Totnes |

  • group focused on making people become more eco-friendly through commoning with their neighbours, having regular meetings to come up with ways in which to do this.
  • heavily funded by the government. 
  • Other similar organisation based around a community: Worthing Transition Town.





The People’s Supermarket |
"The Supermarket is a sustainable food cooperative that responds to the needs of the local community and provides healthy, local food at reasonable prices."
Co-operative College |
"The Co-operative College is an educational charity which works from its home in Manchester with learners and co-operatives all over the world, from schoolchildren to African worker co-operatives."
Association of Commons Registration Authorities |
land-based commons-related organizations and information.
Management and protection of common land
Common Land and the Commons Act 2006
Agricultural management of common land
National Common Land Stakeholder Group
Commons Councils
Common Land
The 8th National Seminar on Common Land and Town and Village Greens
Speakers at the 8th National Seminar on Common Land and Town and Village Greens