Property rights and public goals: comparative remarks on the collective use of private property

A traditional feature of property rights in land is the owner’s power to exclude third parties from his/her property. The challenge of sustainable development raises the question of the compatibility of the owner’s exclusionary right with the public interest to sustainable use and management of land. In this context, the paper analyses some examples of collective use of private property from a comparative perspective, suggesting that private owners also have an obligation to contribute to the wider public good. In particular, attention will be focused on the right of local inhabitants to use private land for lawful sport and pastimes, as recognized by the English law of town and village greens, as well as on the right to roam and the community right to buy, as established by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The interplay between private property and public purposes in this area is investigated, showing the role of property rights in promoting sustainable development goals.