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Advised against land purchase

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Advised against land purchase

Postby artemis » Sat May 06, 2017 1:23 pm

Hi all,

When the owners of an area of open space went into administration the land went to auction but very cheap as it was believed it couldn't be developed. A number of people had interest in the land and when consulting a local councillor were told that a communal purchase of the land would have too many legal complications and that they would apply measures to protect the land from ever being developed.
The land was purchased by a developer and application has been made to build on it (at a huge profit if allowed to go ahead). Had a communal purchase gone ahead we could have prevented this from ever happening as I personally would have liked to have owned the land around my property.

Do we have a case of any sort that the councillor and council assured us that houses couldn't and wouldn't be built and we were advised against purchasing the land ourselves to preserve it if development does occur?

This has been stated in objections to the planning application but many people feel they have been misled and it's a degree of fraud?
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Re: Advised against land purchase

Postby dls » Sat May 06, 2017 4:03 pm

The sensible remedy (and possibly the only one), is to vote him or her out next time.

You would have to have identified clear losses - and what you describe would be difficult to turn into numbers.

You would have to identify a very clear statement and just how it amounted to a promise or a representation or a statement of fact.

Rely upon an assertion of misbehaviour (fraud) only if absolutely necessary - it doubles your risks and quadruples the costs. It is only very rarely needed.
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Re: Advised against land purchase

Postby atticus » Sat May 06, 2017 5:17 pm

You say an application for planning permission has been made. The Councillor could not possibly have said that could not be done.

Has there been a decision on that application?
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Re: Advised against land purchase

Postby artemis » Sat May 06, 2017 6:59 pm

Many thanks both, unfortunately the councillor has since been replaced. I have e-mail communications from the councillor for the ward at the time one of which actually states that the action they have taken will ensure that development cannot happen. The current councillor is assisting with the matter and helping but can't say categorically that building cannot happen on the site just that there is some hope based on the number of restrictions and costs involved to remedy issues.

At the time the land was purchased, much of what the councillor said was that it would be 'very difficult' to get planning permission and words along those lines and only one e-mail (probably mistakenly worded as a definitive) to me read as if to say it would not be possible.

No decision has yet been made, people tend to suggest that once a planning application has been registered then it's unlikely to be rejected and the best hope is to just influence what happens (e.g. window types, roof height etc.). I hope that it would get rejected (pending the result of an appeal process at another unrelated location) but if not then people might be looking for some form of recompense or compensation based on the advice from the local councillor at the time. Difficult as you say to turn into numbers. The councillor actually stated that if the land had building potential it would have been sold for millions not little more than £10k as it did.
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Re: Advised against land purchase

Postby atticus » Sat May 06, 2017 7:20 pm

Planning applications succeed. Planning applications do not succeed.

Why not have a look around your local authority's planning site? Why not have a look at the local plan, and see the use for the area in which this site is located?
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Re: Advised against land purchase

Postby tph » Tue May 16, 2017 8:16 pm

If it was set out as open space as part of the housing development their would have been a planning obligation to make it so. This would be the principal ground to object to the application. Loss of amenity space provided as part of the principal development.

You could still get together with the other residents and register the land as an asset of community value.
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Re: Advised against land purchase

Postby artemis » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:28 pm

Many thanks for all the replies, really appreciate the advice on this.
Nothing has been decided as yet still but after a period of dormancy things have sprung into life again with geotechnics now testing the stability of the land. The land itself had a planning application which was a change of land use from housing to public open space in 2000 and tree planting was done as part of this and also as part of a lottery (millennium) commissioned planting scheme which I believe has a condition the trees should be there for at least 100 years or something along those lines. I understand that the council can overturn that and easily change the land usage as it is within a 'regeneration corridor' and that TPOs don't count for much when a handful of trees are involved in particular. The main reason I believe for the change of land use was down to stability when several houses close to this area suffered extreme subsidence and had to be demolished but new houses have since been built which seem to have been ok for several years now.

I also considered the element whereby the land was sold very cheaply by the administrators as it was also communicated at the time by the council that the land couldn't be build on so wonder what the point of view of the administrators would be on the basis that this might now be possible and the owner is in line to make a fortune. The land could have been sold for far more by them had they not have been advised as such.

I also wondered if e-mail communications from the councillor could be used to help with the objection as they came direct from their official council e-mail address although directly to me in most cases. I just don't know if it's safe to pass those on as there is always a disclaimer on the e-mails about not being the intended recipient etc. There was a community campaign around the time with a website, petition and massive turn out to confront the councillors. Actual terms used in the e-mails I received from the councillor were as follows:

"The <tree preservation order> is to make sure nobody can get planning permission"

"The auctioners will be told this will never be building land. The whole site is under the order"

"I still think it unlikely that if <the local council> turned it down it would get approval elsewhere. The tree areas are absolutely
not possible as they are on an area where it impossible to build because of the land formation
Any possible buyer would have been told this already"

"I would imagine that if the estate bought it there might be an awful lot of work involved"

"It has already been mooted by other residents that the land could be bought communally but the implications are
immense"

"The area of land to which you refer is also designated public open space and some years ago it was planted with
small trees to enhance the environment under a nationwide plan
I think it highly unlikely that any development would be allowed on any of this land"

"People have already started to talk about a communal buy out but the legal implications are so very complex and
we wouls also have to cut the grass etc on the park area in the middle and keep all the bushes pruned etc."

"It is obvious from the guide price of £10 000 that the administraters realise that planning permission would be
refused"

"There is no hope of any building taking place in the area as far as the council is concerned"
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Re: Advised against land purchase

Postby dls » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:57 pm

I cannot think that any of the emails set out will get you anywhere.
Policies change. Times change, and needs hange, and laws change
As has been said, applications are made and many are granted and many are refused.
They do not promise
They are not certain

A councillor does not generally speak for the council. He iappears to be expressing opinions in his role as elected representative to the council.
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Re: Advised against land purchase

Postby artemis » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:43 pm

Many thanks for the reply, I also wondered what might be the situation with the administrators having sold the land for a very low price based on advice on the saleability from the council. Is that something they might also go back on or consider it just a loss and wouldn't react? I just considered if it might complicate matters then it may influence the planning decision possibly especially if on a cost basis as I can imagine the land owner might be willing to pay potentially heavy costs for remedial works for building as he'd still be in line for a huge profit.

Otherwise, will just have to hope that the public responses and opposition as well as land use changes that had been registered might hold some ground. I've heard mention of a committee being a good option and speaking to the planner they mentioned one or two representatives from the estate attending a planning meeting to speak for about a minute with their objections on behalf of the the other residents? I wouldn't want that to be missed and the planning to go ahead without the consultation.
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Re: Advised against land purchase

Postby atticus » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:53 pm

Administrators will have taken appropriate professional advice.
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