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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10382
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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We bought a plot of land with access rights over a lock block

Customer Question

We bought a plot of land with access rights over a lock block area 28 years ago from the council, now they want to claim back 3 meters of my property access to purchase a piece of amenity ground on the right hand side of our property. Can they legally do this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.
Could you explain your situation in a little more detail please?Who is making the claim? The local authority?I need the full background detail from you please. Thanks.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We bought a plot of ground from the local authority in 1988 we built a bungalow on the plot, all site plots were sold at the same time and each plot had an access allocated to their site which were already put in place by the local authority as they had to provide a road and access points to all sites before they could sell them. There was one green space left at the side of our plot for amenity ground, the local council now want to grab this space and sell it with planning permission for a house on it, the problem as well as the loss of the amenity ground is that the Council want 3 meters of our access to our property. Lock block area to the front of our garden was the allocated access for our drive way, we have maintained this area of the site for the last 28 years and it provides extra parking off the street for our family and guests. The local authority are now claiming the access still belongs to them and we should not be parking on it. We totally dispute they have the right to take this area back as we have done all the maintenance and clearing of snow from this area for the last 28 years and the local authority has done nothing to keep the weeds or replace any broken lock block. My query is after all this would it be legal for them to take the area back
Kate Shanks
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.
Can you please clarify the situation on the ground here?The local authority presumably owns the amenity land and you have treated it as your own for 28 years. Is that correct?There is little or not enough access to this amenity land and they want to compulsory purchase 3 m of your access or purchase an access to allow access to their amenity land? Is that correct? I’m not certain that it is.You refer to a lock block access. Who is that registered to? I’m trying to understand what exactly it is that the local authority want.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The local authority own the amenity ground next to our bungalow which is the only green space on the site of about 30 houses all built about 28/29 years ago. Each site was allocated access rights, ours are off the street over a lock block area, this is the area the council want to use as they now say it does not belong to us although we were granted access rights to our site over the lock block area which is our driveway into our property. This area of lock block paving has been maintained by us and only us for the last 28 years. Now the local authority want access to the amenity ground next door to build on, they want to use our access which they say still belongs to them. The Council has conceded that we were granted the access rights in 1988 when we bought the plot for our bungalow but say they still own it and can use it for access to the amenity ground. We disagree with this. Hope I have clarified the matter and you can give me an answer as how we stand legally on this query
Kate Shamks
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.
Adverse possession can be obtained over crown land (local authority land) after 30 years of treating it as your own. You would not be able to gain adverse possession if anyone else had been walking over it for example as access or if it was part of the pavement.The difficulty is that if this is part of the highway (pavements are usually part of the highway) it is going to need a stopping up order which you apply for the magistrates, to convert the highway back into private land. There is a real “once a highway, always a highway” which is why needs the court application.I’m sorry to tell you that in your case however you cannot claim adverse possession. You have been granted the right to use the land for access and therefore your possession can never be adverse regardless of whether you have maintained it or not.Is that what you wanted to know, about the adverse possession issue?Can I clarify anything else for you?Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It is an important part of the process.Best wishesFES