Council wants £60,000+

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    Council wants £60,000+

    First-time poster, please make allowances if I get it wrong.

    I own a small piece of land on which I have planning approval for houses. The original planning application erroneously showed the access road crossing council owned land. To change this I intended to make a planning variation application with the road being entirely on unregistered land. I would also take out an Indemnity Insurance (costing two to three thousand pounds) to protect me/it against future problems or claims.

    As the ungegistered land I intend to cross sits between two pieces of land registered to my council my surveyor contacted the council to confirm that they did not own the land.

    The council's reply shocked both him and my solicitor. Their reply was that they did NOT own the land but, because they had maintained it as a public open space for a number of years by cutting the grass, they 'SHOULD OWN IT' and therefore would require a payment of one third of the uplift value of my land for my road crossing it. This will come to 60 to 70 thousand pounds.

    This leaves me in an impossible situation: If I have to pay £60,000+ the development ceases to be viable. If I ignore their opinion that they 'should own it' I cannot obtain the necessary Indemnity Insurance.

    I have trawled the internet and am unable to find anything comparable to my situation - having to pay a ransom strip price to someone who doesn't own the land.

    Any advice or suggestions would be gratefully received.

    Thaks in advance,

    Difficult to comment without a map.


      Try to find out who does own it. Ask for proof of the length of time the council has maintained the land. As I see it even if you paid I don't see how the council could then give you lifelong permission to cross the land. Just because it is unregistered doesn't mean it isn't owned.


        I remember the history of this land (cos I am old). It is two (of four) residual plots left when a terrace of houses was demolished in the late 1960s The council own all the others. From memory, the council have cut the grass since about 1970.

        I presume that, if I paid them the money, the council woud simply take out an Indemnity Insurance of their own against the owner appearing.

        I should also mention that my surveyor has asked the council for details of the legislation, case histories and precedents showing their rights to take their stance. Not surprisingly, he has had no reply.

        It all just leaves me seriously stressed..


          I see your problem, it would follow that the council may have a claim on the land if they have maintained it for 50 years. However if they have never actually moved to claim the land then can they actually stop you from using it? You could take out the indemnity insurance for yourself.


            Therein lies the problem: it is the implied threat of the council simply saying they believe it should belong to them that is enough to frighten off the insurance company.
            The potential of the council making a claim, however small or outlandish, is not something the insurance company will knowingly risk.

            Before the council said they believe the land should belong to them getting insurance was a simple matter. Now it is either impossible or horrifically expensive..

            If the council tried to claim adverse possession of the land, a few weeks would settle the matter either way. Simply doing nothing stops the development (due to lack of insurance). I just need it to be settled, whichever way it goes, rather than being left in limbo by some council officer's (probably personal) opinion.


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