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Thanks for the above. As you say the adoption status is crucial. If the layby is adopted then whilst you will still own the land if you buy it the LA will be responsible for the top surface of the land and it will be subject to public rights to use on foot and by vehicle. Another way of looking at this would be you own the land in name only, but there is nothing you can do with it due to the above.
So this would be the first question. If the answer to the question is that the layby is not adopted then the next question is are there any public rights of way over it. This might either be recorded on the title to the land or in the registers of public rights of way maintained by the local authority. If there are rights of way then your purchase would be subject to the same.
If there are no rights of way a query should be raised with the landowner to understand the reason the land has been laid out as what would appear to be a layby. This has not come about by accident so at some point in time there would have been a purpose for this. It would be beneficial to understand what this was (is).
If you are satisified from your enquiries that there are no rights of way and that the layby has not been used by the public for more than 20 years (which would risk a claim to a potential new right of way) then the land could be turned back into forest land. You would need to liaise with the highways department at the local authority in respect of safety issues when carrying out work adjacent to the highway. There should be no requirement for planning however to reclaim the land as forestry land
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