Answer: Under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006, anyone is entitled to apply for land to be registered as a village green, if a significant number of local people have participated as of right (that means openly and without force or permission) in sports and pastimes on the piece of land for a period of 20 years or more.
You mentioned that people have only recently been using the land in this way, which suggests that this has not been an ongoing situation. Check with the seller just how long people have been using the land in this way.
To be on the safe side you could ask your solicitor to obtain a statutory declaration from the seller confirming how the paddock/field has actually been used during the seller’s ownership.
If you do buy the field, make sure that you fence off the public footpath running along the bottom as that will stop people straying on to the rest of the land.
In addition you should put up signs to indicate that the land is private and may not be used for games, picnicking and so on.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).