My parents transferred their property to me last year. They still live at the property, with me.
To the rear of the property is a field which I would guess is about three quarters of an acre in size. The field was originally owned by the builders of the estate. In the 1980s they applied for planning permission to build more houses, which was refused at the time. Since the land was useless to the builders, and as my parents were fearful that the builders might try applying for planning permission again in the future and be successful, they bought the land from them. They were content to let the land overgrow for security reasons, safe in the knowledge that nobody would be able to build on the land in future.
The land was bought outright with no mortgage and the deeds were kept at home. In the late 1990s there was a torrential storm and the property was flooded. As you can guess, the deeds were destroyed. At the time my parents thought nothing of it, because they had no plans for the land as they just wanted to safeguard it from being built on.
Now I am in possession and ownership of the property, I would like to clear up the field to the rear of the property and turn it into a market garden. They have agreed to transfer the field to me and this of course triggers compulsory registration. Even if they didn't transfer it to me, I would feel safer having the land registered to make it harder for adverse possessors. Even a possessory title would be sufficient because it could always be upgraded in future.
The problem, of course, is that the deeds were destroyed in the flood. I sought a solicitor who thinks the chances of getting the land registered at the Land Registry are slim to none because it seems too opportunistic with no documentary evidence that my parents owned it and the fact is that they never actually possessed it, although I would be actually possessing it prior to the first registration being made. Although we could get a copy of the insurance policy to confirm the flood, the solicitor says that single document by itself (even with a statement of truth) won't be enough.
The builder was bought by a bigger company, who, in turn, was bought by an even bigger company with a lot of money at their disposal. The chances of them having any documents relating to the sale from the 1980s are probably slim to none, but my fear is that if I contact them about this to enquire, and they realise we have no evidence that my parents ever bought it, they might deny the sale having taken place and then claim ownership of the land and then build on it against my parents wishes!
We have a copy of the abstract of the title which conveyed the land to the builders and also the conveyance before that, but sadly, not the conveyance from the builders to my parents. The solicitors used by my parents are no longer trading and we have no idea which solicitors were used by the builders.
I understand this forum is not about giving advice, but discussing law. Although advice would be nice, I respect that you don't give any. I was hoping that, perhaps, there might be some legal options as yet unexplored. Or confirmation that this is a dead duck. I did not feel confident that the solicitor had much experience in this type of case and there are no other solicitors in my area that I can access that deal with land law.
Thanks for anything you can help with.