The Common and Your Council Tax

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A Message from the Parish Council

You will be pleased to hear that the owners of Lowick Hall Farm, 1 and 2 Lowick Common and the Parish Council have now concluded the lengthy process that has engaged all parties for over 3 years. The applicants for ownership of land in front of their properties  have achieved their aims. The Farm is happy that its right of access to its field have been guaranteed

The cottages now own the land in front of them, and the Farm has secured a further right of access to its field, for agricultural purposes.

All parties will have their own view of the process, and the costs involved in getting to this point. Some see it as an essential exercise in establishing appropriate legal title to land and access to property. Others regard the lengthy negotiations as unnecessary and leaving all parties no better off than they were – with the 3 sets of lawyers involved immeasurably richer as a result. There are shades of opinion between both positions, as you might expect.

We are publishing details of the final [as far as we know] costs that have been born by the community as a result of the case. These have resulted in a slight increase to the Council Tax payable by residents, because the Parish has been compelled to defend the Common and the legal position of the Council, and to accommodate the demands of the other parties to the case for adverse possession and enhanced rights of access. This has also entailed surveying, legal and registration fees in order to register the Common with the Land Registry, and in so doing, establish a boundary with adjoining property, and where new and exiting easements would lie.

The Agreement

The Agreement agreed and endorsed by the Land Registry Tribunal is broadly as stated below

  • Land at the front of 1 & 2 Lowick Common is now owned by and registered to the owners of the properties.
  • Rights of access over the existing track by all parties, and by the owners of Burn House, are acknowledged by the Council and the Tribunal, and are recorded in the records of the case, and in pre-existing deeds of access.
  • A further metre wide strip at the western edge of the Common has been established, and registered, as an agriculture right of way, in perpetuity.  The owners of Lowick Hall Farm may gravel this surface to match the existing, if they wish to.

It is important to remember that no part of the Common has passed out of Parish ownership. The PC did not contest the area in front of the cottages that it believed had been used exclusively by the residents for over 100 years. The PC has now ensured that as part of the process the title to the Common is now properly registered, and the boundary established.

The Costs

The Costs to the parties have been considerable. However, satisfaction may be taken by the Cottages which now have secured additional value in the land in front of them. The Farm has secured additional right of access to wider farm machinery to its field.

The Parish is pleased that this has been the outcome for the first respondents. As second respondents, however, it has been forced to raise a considerable sum to defend the public’s rights in circumstances that it was unable to avoid. Apart from securing the boundary to the Common with the Land Registry, which it accepts were costs it was responsible for, it has received no other benefit, and its other costs have not been adequately defrayed by the court process.

As public money was involved, here are the costs as far as the Parish Council were concerned.

EXPENDITURE
WELLERS LAW GROUP £12,442.80
ANDREW YOUNG SURVEYOR £1,020.00
TOTAL COSTS £13,462.80
INCOME
LOWICK HALL FARM COST OF EASEMENT £2,500.00
LOWICK HALL FARM CONTRIBUTION TO PARISH COSTS £1,500.00
1 LOWICK COMMON CONTRIBUTION TO PARISH COSTS £1,500.00
2 LOWICK COMMON CONTRIBUTION TO PARISH COSTS £1,500.00
TOTAL INCOME £7,000.00
NET EXPENDITURE BY PARISH COUNCIL £6,462.80

Was This Avoidable?

It is hard to say how this could have been avoided, given the absolute determination to secure a legal judgement over the claims to ownership and access. Had the boundary of the Common been registered at a much earlier juncture, then it is possible that this might have been avoided. Though the process of litigation would probably have started at this point, just the same.

Future Actions to Be Taken By the Council

The voters of Lowick may decide that sharper eyes should be employed by Councillors in future. For itself, the Parish Council is now resolved to survey all unclaimed and unregistered land within the village to ensure that the Public’s rights are secured, and that these area are properly registered by the Parish, for the Public good. This process will begin forthwith, with identification of land that is used communally, or can be seen to have been used in this way within recent memory.

One thought on “The Common and Your Council Tax

    Linda waite said:
    September 22, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Thank you it’s good to keep up with local new and views from you and ann

    Like

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