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Minor land sales/tenancies guidance notes

Whilst the Council is not obliged to sell or lease any of its land, it will occasionally consider applications to purchase or lease small parcels of land from adjacent residential homeowners.

This guidance note outlines the procedures for dealing with these requests and the subsequent costs that an application may incur. This should enable the prospective applicant to give the matter due consideration before deciding to submit a formal application.

Applicants should note that any fees or charges are additional to the purchase or rental price of the land. Moreover, the payment of any fees or other costs will not guarantee that an application to buy or lease the land will be successful. Moreover, if, for whatever reason, the transaction does not complete, the Council will not reimburse you for any expenses that you have incurred.

Before submitting a formal application to purchase or lease land from the Council, all potential applicants are advised to undertake pre-application planning discussions with the Local Planning Authority on the merits of their proposal. This should enable them to avoid any abortive fees that may be paid in situations that planning permission on the land is unlikely to be obtained.

Reasons for the Council to retain land ownership

The Council owns land for both operational and amenity purposes and will not usually consider applications for the sale or lease of land that is held as open space. The most common examples of this type of land are public parks and playing fields but it could also include amenity land in residential areas.

The following provides examples of some of the reasons why the Council will not usually consider applications to purchase or lease land land:

  • There is a lack of open space within the local area
  • The land is strategically important to the Council
  • The land is suitable for development
  • The land may be of interest to other parties
  • The land is subject to Highway rights
  • The land encompasses a right of way, cycleway, or public footpath
  • The land is subject to a covenant that restricts its use
  • The boundary is shared by more than one property
  • The land forms part of a flood plain protection
  • The land contains services or drains
  • The land has habitat / species protection
  • The land sale would impact upon or cause loss of local amenity
  • The land sale would result in the loss of trees / shrubs / hedges

Procedure for purchasing small parcels of Council owned land

Establishing Land Ownership

The first stage of the process is for the applicant to contact the Council’s land ownership team to establish whether the land is Council owned.  This can be done via email at estates@npt.gov.uk or over the phone on 01639 685250.

Application Form

If the Council confirms that it owns the land and you wish to apply to purchase or lease it, then you will then need to complete the online application form.

As part of your application, Neath Port Talbot Council requires a non-refundable application fee of £150. This fee is required to meet the Council’s administrative costs when dealing with your initial application. 

If the sale or lease of the land subsequently completes, then the application fee will be deducted from the overall costs of purchasing or leasing the land.

When completing the form, you should ensure that you disclose your intended use for the land together with your proposed method of fencing/enclosing the land. Moreover, you should also include a plan of the land you wish to acquire.

Once in receipt of the application, the Council will conduct the necessary internal consultation based on the information you provide. Please be advised, that if an applicant changes their mind about the use of the land, then this may require a new application and fee.

The Council will send an acknowledgement email within a reasonable period of time upon receipt of your completed application form and fee. The Estates team will then appoint an officer to deal with your case.

Consultation

Any land owned by the Council is public property, and the Council is obliged to comply with certain statutory obligations as well as consulting with people who may be affected by any proposed sale or tenancy.

The officer will commence a consultation process with other relevant sections within the Council and with your local Ward Councillor(s).  Moreover, if your proposed acquisition affects other landowners in the vicinity, then the Council will usually consult them as well.

The initial consultation process will generally take eight to ten weeks, but for more complicated cases, the consultation period may take longer.  However, please note that the entire process can often take many months and whilst we will deal with all cases sympathetically, we cannot provide any assurances that an application will be completed within a certain time frame.

Once the consultation period has ended, the Estates officer will write to you outlining the outcome. If the sale or lease can proceed, the Council will issue you with Heads of Terms, subject to contract that set out the basis  that the Estates teams is prepared to recommend that the Council proceed with the sale.  This will give you a time limit for confirming that you want to proceed.  However, please be mindful that before any sale or lease can be approved, the Council’s strategic priorities will be considered and a recommendation to proceed will only be made if the sale has no adverse impact on the Council.

Authorisation

If the Council decides that it is unable to sell or lease the land, then a letter will be sent to you stating the reasons why the Council is unable to proceed with the sale.  Any decision by the Council not to sell the land is final and there is no right of appeal.

Valuation

The Council is obliged under the Local Government Act 1972 to sell the land for the best price reasonably obtainable. To comply with this requirement, it will ascertain the open market value of the land for the use proposed.

For example, any land that is to be used for parking, garages or to construct an extension to your property will be valued accordingly.

As the valuation will be based upon the use that you have indicated, the land sale or tenancy will include strict legal clauses that ensure that it cannot be used for other purposes in the future.

Please note there is a minimum sale price of £1,500 for any parcel of land, no matter its size. This means that if the open market value of the land you are applying to purchase is considered less than the minimum sale price, the price of the land will be £1,500.

As the Council is obliged by law to sell land for the best price reasonably obtainable.  If the officer considers that the land you have asked to purchase could be of interest to other parties or could be sold for development land, the Council will advertise it for sale on the open market and will not be able to deal with you directly.

Statutory Notices for Disposal of Public Open Space

If as part of the consultation, the Estates officer considers that the land is Public Open Space, then the Council is obliged under the Local Government Act 1972 to advertise the proposed sale or tenancy in a local newspaper for two consecutive weeks and subsequently consider any objections that it receives. For the Council to comply with this requirement, you will be required to pay the charges incurred for this upfront, which is currently around £1000. If there are valid objections to the sale or lease of open space, we will consider reporting the matter to the Council’s Cabinet for a decision

You will be advised of the outcome of the decision and whether the sale or tenancy can proceed to the next stage. If the sale or tenancy cannot proceed, the Council will not refund you for the costs of placing the Public Open Space notice.

Planning Permission

Your proposed use of the land is likely to require planning permission for a change of use, for which, an additional fee will be payable to the Local Planning Authority. You are advised to discuss your proposed use of the land with the Planning section before proceeding with your application to purchase or lease the land.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to find out if planning consent is required. It is also your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any necessary planning permission for a change of use, together with evidence confirming that the permission is in place. The sale or lease of the land will not proceed until such time as confirmation has been received via the applicant that planning permission has been obtained for the proposed use.

It should be noted that the Council’s role as a Local Planning Authority is entirely separate from its role as a landowner. Accordingly, any decision to dispose or lease tthe land will not be relevant to your planning application.  In particular, you should not assume that planning consent will automatically be granted just because the Council has provisionally agreed to sell or lease you the land or vice versa. Any decision by the Council to sell or lease the land is entirely separate from any decision to grant planning permission.

Where planning consent is required, any sale or lease will be conditional upon consent being obtained. It should be noted that a fee will be payable in respect of all planning applications, including planning applications for change of use, which includes a change of use from open space to private garden land.

Fees and other charges

In addition to the purchase or rental price of the land, you will be liable for the payment of the Council’s legal costs and surveyors’ fees, currently estimated at £995 each. These fees will be payable upon completion of the purchase. The application fee of £150 will be deducted from these costs. You will be responsible for your own legal costs.

Payment of any fees will not guarantee that your application is approved.

Fees and other costs must be paid in advance and are non–refundable. If the sale or tenancy proceeds, on the completion date you will also have to pay the agreed purchase or rental price.

There are no exemptions to the payment of fees and ancillary costs.

Legal Completion

If you agree with the terms and conditions, then you will be asked to confirm your agreement in writing. Any documentation relating to the sale will be forwarded to the Council’s Head of Legal Services who will prepare the contracts for your approval.

You must appoint your own solicitors to deal with the land purchase and provide their contact details to the Council. You will be responsible for their charges and disbursements as well as land registry fees for registering any new land ownership and any stamp duty land tax post completion.

The Council’s legal team cannot provide you with legal advice. The Council’s legal team will collect the land purchase price or rent together with any outstanding fees as part of the completion process.

Appeals

If we refuse your application, we will advise you in writing together with the reasons why.  However, there is no appeals procedure and the final decision upon is completely at the Council’s discretion.

Any rejected application will not be reconsidered for a period of at least 5 years.