Today at an auction thirteen bits of land around Crookston, Dairsie, Glenesk and Dumbreck roads were sold for £500. The plots (although I think this might be overplaying the size of some of them) seem to be leftover bits of land from when Bilton built the houses around the area being sold off for reasons which are not apparent to residents, the Council or me.
The map below shows the plots being sold. This mirrors a similar sale in Cheltenham, where a dozen strips of land were sold for £13,000 in May 2015. In both cases, Bilton was the seller. According to the BBC, the Cheltenham sale was as a result of a ‘review of their assets’.
Prior to the auction I wrote to the Chief Executive of the Council about this and am reassured by their response. While the Council refused to countenance buying the land, they have informed me that:
- Whilst the owner is free to sell the land they are only able to do anything with it if the highway authority extinguishes (stops up the highway), ie. neither they nor any successive owner is able to build on that land, or stop the public or a resident having access to that land, until and unless the Council, as highway authority and after due process extinguishes the use as public highway.
- The Council has no plans to extinguish the public highway for those parcels of land and neither can I foresee a situation whereby we would want to do so. On this basis I don’t think the Council would need to buy the land as the use is already safeguarded.
In further conversations, Senior Officers have confessed that they have no idea why anyone would want to buy this land, although did suggest it may be some a new form of land banking (where companies hold land for long-term future development).
As a local Councillor I will obviously monitor the situation carefully to make sure that nothing untoward happens around these plots and the Council remains true to its commitment regarding these pieces of land remaining as public highway.
While the Council Officers may be correct and it is some new form of land banking, I can’t see what sections of roads, pavements, verges and a footpath can be used for by anyone. I am certainly surprised to see sections of road pavement in front of some residents’ houses being included as on most homes around here, they are included in the deeds for that house – I do hope that there have been no mistakes by the company or auctioneers in this respect and am following up on some queries in this regard.
To help keep residents informed, Eltham North Conservatives delivered the letter below to residents on Wednesday evening.
I thought residents might also be interested in the slightly different map which I received following my enquiry with the Council which shows pieces of land owned by Bilton as follows: