All common land is owned by somebody and registered in the Common Land Register. It should be open and unfenced.
You usually have the right to roam on commons. This means you can use it for certain activities like walking and climbing.
Some common land has different rights so you may be able to use it for other activities, for example horse-riding.
Commons we manage and own
We maintain 12 commons in South Gloucestershire.
Our commons are:
- Siston Common
- Westerleigh (Yate) Common
- Bridgeyate Common
- Mangotsfield Common
- Windsor Place Common
The following commons are privately owned but managed by us:
- Goose Green and Webbs Heath Commons
- Assley, Hareley, Hawkesbury and Inglestone Commons
- Lyde Green Common
If you notice an issue with these commons, you can report a problem with a public open space to us.
Other areas of common land are maintained by parish councils, wildlife trusts, or under private ownership and management.
The Common, Yate
The Common, Yate is one of the largest open spaces owned and managed by South Gloucestershire Council. It is also known as Westerleigh Common.
We want to make sure that it is protected and enhanced for future generations to enjoy and cherish and provides a space for nature to thrive and people to enjoy.
The majority of the 54 hectares of open space is registered common land. This gives people access across the common. It is designated a Queen Elizabeth II Field and will be remain protected as an open area of common land for the public recreation and enjoyment.
What we want to do
We want to seek funding to deliver a range of improvements to protect and enhance the common in response to the climate and nature emergency for the benefit of wildlife and people.
Potential improvements could include:
- tree planting and wildflower meadow enhancements to increase the diversity and abundance of beneficial habitats
- water course enhancements to improve water quality and tackle flooding
- improved management, for example reintroducing grazing or introducing dogs on leads zones to enable wildlife to thrive
Proposed improvements will follow thorough site investigations and community engagement to make sure the needs of people and wildlife are considered. The common will remain open to the public. There are no plans for any development.
Climate and nature challenges
The common is facing challenges due to the climate and nature emergency which are increased by:
- use of people and dogs
- light and noise pollution
- an increase in surrounding developments
Have your say
Our survey has now closed. Thank you for your feedback.
The survey results have been analysed and we will be using the feedback, combined with biodiversity data to plan any future improvements to the common.
Why common land is important
Many of the commons in South Gloucestershire are designated as sites of nature conservation interest because they are important for wildlife.
Some of our commons are of national importance for wildlife and are legally protected as sites of special scientific interest.
Common land also has historic and cultural value. The rights of common often goes back hundreds of years and can be traced back through generations. Common land preserves a snapshot of the past as well as providing us with open spaces.
Rights of access on commons
Most common land is accessible for the public to enjoy.
Some commons have historic local or private acts which grant rights of access to the neighbourhood.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 gives the public a right to roam on most common land.
This gives a right to explore common land on foot.
There are some restrictions which are:
- disturbance or damage to wildlife should be avoided
- no lighting fires or barbecues
- no camping
- you cannot drive across without permission
There is not normally a right of access for horse riders and cyclists on common land unless on byways or bridleways.
Commons are semi-natural open spaces. This means they are primarily managed in the interest of nature.
Longer grass, scrub and trees are all vital parts of providing a good range of habitat for wildlife to live in and people to enjoy.
Some of our commons are cut for hay and bedding by local farmers for livestock.
It is important that if you walk your dog on the commons, you pick up and remove your dog poo. Dog poo can kill livestock.
Dogs must be kept on a short lead between the 1 March and 31 July.
Driveways and parking
Some households will access their property by a driveway across the common.
Unless stated in your deeds, driveways remain in the ownership of the owner of the common. You should not make any changes to them without consulting us first.
No new access across the commons can be created without landowner permission.
The user of the driveway remains responsible for its upkeep unless agreed otherwise with the landowner.
We do not grant permission for residents to park on driveways or the grassed common bordering any properties. You must park on the road or within your property boundary.
Usage patterns in the past do not grant you a right to use the common for parking of vehicles.
Illegal off road motorcycling
If someone is illegally using a motor vehicle on a common you can:
- call 101 and report the incident to the police providing as much detail as possible
- raise persistent motorcycling on your common to your community engagement forum and make a suggestion
- report anti-social driving to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
You can read our illegal off road motorcycling advice for more information.
Protection of common land
Common land is legally protected by the The Commons Act 2006. This stops it being developed on without consent.
It also protects unrestricted access across common land by prohibiting fencing and other obstructions without consent.
Common land registers include:
- a description of the land
- a rights section with the details of the person who applied
- information on the owner of the common land at time of registration
You can book an appointment to view our registers using the email address below.
You can contact us about commons rights by:
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- post: South Gloucestershire Council, Department for Resources and Business Change, Senior Legal Officer, Legal and Democratic Services, PO Box 1953, Bristol, BS37 0DE
Byelaws and schemes of management
You can view the schemes of management and byelaws for each of our registered commons.