Tel: 01491 573535
" />
The Ecologist

Open Spaces Society, 480x360
More articles about
Related Articles

Open Spaces Society

OSS, formally the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, is Britain’s oldest conservation body. We campaign to protect common land, village greens and public paths and our right to enjoy them.

Tel: 01491 573535

We are persistent in our defence of the public’s rights to enjoy the countryside and towns

Support our campaigns

Although the deadline for responding to the consultations on the National Planning Policy Framework and village green legislation in England has now passed, we will continue to be active in campaigning for the best possible outcome in protecting open spaces and village greens.


New green space designation

We are still collecting information about open spaces (good and bad practice) to add to the survey carried out in 2010. This would assist in demonstrating to The Department for Communities and Local Government, which is responsible for the National Planning Policy Framework, what the criteria for the new open space designation should include. Please send information about your local open space to us here.

Defra consultation on village green legislation

We continue to gather information about village greens to inform our next steps once Defra has published its response to the consultation. Please send your feedback here. In the meantime, please write to your MP and ask him/her to raise the society’s concerns. Click here to read our response to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with regard to its consultation on village greens.

Our action plan for Wales

Has your Assembly Member pledged support for our Action Plan for Wales? Visit our Wales page for a list of those who are already backing it. If your AM has not yet said yes, please write to him/her and seek support

Why commons are special

There are over 7,000 registered commons in England and over 1,600 in Wales, covering a wide range of landscapes, geological formations and habitats. 

They are a remarkable survival from pre-medieval times, and are important for their environmental, socio-economic, cultural, landscape, historical, archaeological and social benefits. With copious local, national and international designations, commons probably deliver a wider range of public benefits than any other category of land in England and Wales.

Common is land where the owners of certain properties have rights, to graze, collect wood or dig peat for instance, in common with the landowner. 

Many commons were lost during the inclosure movement leaving a mere remnant.  From the mid-nineteenth century, the recreation value of commons was increasingly recognised and this was reflected in legislation from 1866 to 2006.

The old practice of exercising common rights, as an essential adjunct to the personal economy of those with rights, has declined in many areas as lifestyles change.  At the same time, their value for recreation has increased. 

The introduction of grazing for biodiversity may conflict with dog-walkers and horse-riders, and fencing may be unpopular with those who have always appreciated the common as an unenclosed landscape, or tree-felling to restore heathland may cause an outcry among those who favour woodlands.

Company Ethos
The aim of the Open Spaces Society is to protect, increase, enhance and champion the common land, village greens, open spaces and public rights of way in England and Wales, and we are persistent in our defence of the public’s rights to enjoy the countryside and towns.

Go for Green Spaces

Green spaces are under threat as never before.  The long-term protection of these areas is of particular concern to the society which is well placed and uniquely qualified to take a leading and influential role. Yet our small staff is already squeezed as never before and we need help and support to undertake this task.

Englefield Green, Surrey - Saved from development






Cavendish Green, Suffolk - Voted 'liveliest in the country'



Odiham Common, Hampshire - New 10 year management plan

Please give what you can to help us protect your local green spaces



As a small charity, we greatly appreciate the support of our members, and it is impossible for us to function without them!   Whether you would like help from us, or just want to help and support our work, your membership will be invaluable to us. Visit for full details of membership benefits and how to join.

Open Space Award

We want to hear about the good things people are doing which support our aims.
Any activity or project which supports our aims can be entered for our new Open Space Award, and we’d like to get as many good examples and success stories as possible.

The Award is open to anyone so, if you’ve got a good story to tell, whether it’s your own story or someone else’s, why not make a nomination? You’ll need to fill in a nomination form which can be completed online

Nominations need to be made by the end of January 2012. These will be considered by a national panel of judges and shortlisted applicants will receive a site visit, with the awards being made at the society’s AGM in July 2012.

Contact Details

Tel: 01491 573535
Fax: 01491 573051

The Open Spaces Society
25 A Bell Street
Oxon, RG9 2BA




Previous Articles...


Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.

More information here...




Help us keep the Ecologist platform going

Since 2012, the Ecologist has been owned and published by a small UK-based charity called the Resurgence Trust. We work hard to support the kind of independent journalism and comment that we know Ecologist readers enjoy but we need your help to keep going. We do all this on a very small budget with a very small editorial team and so joining the Trust or making a donation will show us you value our work and support the platform which is currently offered as a free service.

Join The Resurgence TrustDonate to support the Resurgence Trust