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PROPERTY CLINIC: Can we stop development by registering as a Village Green? 

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We want to stop the grassland opposite our homes being developed. Can we do this by registering it as a Village Green? 

It has been used without let or hindrance by the public for recreational purposes for more than 20 years. Would this exclude it from the ‘development site’? MT

Residents may be able to register a local grass area as a village green to protect it from developers

Residents may be able to register a local grass area as a village green to protect it from developers

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth said: More housing is required in this country, but new developments need to be carefully thought through. 

We only need to look at the cladding scandal to see how poorly devised schemes can ruin the lives of both homeowners and their communities.

Council planners need to look at how plans to develop areas can benefit both prospective new homeowners and the community that they are moving into. 

Access to green space is key to that process, and registering an area as a village green is one way of protecting spaces for community use.  We find out if it can be used in this case.

Stephen Gold, a retired judge and author, explains: Maypole dancing, playing cricket, lying on the grass, bird watching, or walking the dog. 

If a sufficient number of locals have been up to this sort of activity on a piece of land for at least 20 years, then any of them could apply to their local authority to have that land registered as a town or village green.

That’s thanks to the Commons Act 2006, which specifies the required use as ‘lawful sports and pastimes’. 

It must have been done openly and not under the cover of darkness, without the landowner having actually given permission for the activity – and without using force. Jumping over a fence? ‘If you don’t let me carry on dancing, I’ll biff you.’ None of that.

Why register the land as a village green?

Registration does more than provide confirmation that the right exists for locals – they are actually defined as ‘inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality’ – to use the land as they have been doing. It effectively scuppers the landowner from developing the land.

In the past, there has been too much scuppering. Because so many registrations were being used to delay planning applications or to frustrate owners from taking advantage of planning permissions they had obtained for their land, the law was changed. Enter the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013.

That has done away with the ability to register if one of some 14 events has occurred. Crucially, those events include not only the grant of planning permission for the land but the making of a pending application for permission. However, the right to register would be revived if planning permission is refused or any permission that has been granted is not implemented within its lifetime.

Also, preventing registration would be the identification of the land for development in a draft development plan document which has been adopted or put out for consultation.

If a planning application relating to the land in question is pending, this will prevent an application for registration as a village green

If a planning application relating to the land in question is pending, this will prevent an application for registration as a village green

Lessons for the landowner

It should not be a strain on the landowner to prevent use of their land qualifying for registration.

Stop the use, if necessary, through a court injunction or fencing off the land so that it cannot be accessed.

Or make it clear that they permit the use but may withdraw permission when they chose, which can be done by displaying a notice on the land which says so.

There’s a more definitive and simpler way. It is using the system introduced by the 2013 Act and involves depositing with the local authority a written statement and plan. The statement proclaims that the owner wishes to bring to an end any period clocked up towards the 20 years. This is exactly what it will do: stop the clock.

The locals could restart counting towards another 20 years of enjoyment of the land, but the owner could then deposit another statement which would restop the clock. And so on and on and on.

And after 20 years…?

Where 20 years are up but no registration has taken place, the owner can still deposit a statement and plan.

This would have the effect of setting a limited period during which any registration by locals can be applied for – one year for land in England and two years for land in Wales. After that, too late for the locals. This is risky for the owner, though, because the belated statement will be publicised by the authority and so will alert the locals to the fact that, if they want registration, they need to pull their fingers out.

So where does this case stand?

I understand that a planning application relating to the land in question is pending.

This will prevent an application for registration as a village green of any part of that land. If the application is withdrawn, refused, or not activated in time, registration could then take place.

But in so far as the planning application may not extend to some of the land over which the locals have enjoyed their pastimes, registration could still go ahead. The plans put in with the planning application should be scrutinised with a microscope.

Stephen Gold, former judge and author of ‘The Return of Breaking Law’ (see breakinglaw.co.uk)

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How to build your own garden room

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THINKING OF BUILDING A garden shed? Here’s Some expert advice on WHERE to FIND PLANS, HOW to SOURCE MATERIALS AND WHEN to CALL FOR HELP

Back gardens have seen a lot of action over the last two years as many of us got stuck into projects to improve our exterior surroundings. One of those key jobs was often upgrading the humble garden shed to a status symbol of sorts, as a place to escape the confines of the house and as a way of demonstrating DIY prowess.

With a raft of digital tools now available to even the most novice DIYer, access to the information required to construct building projects is just a click away.

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Prologis acquires CBRE IM stake in joint logistics portfolio (GB)

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CBRE Investment Management, on behalf of the European Co-Investment Fund (ECF) has sold its 85% share of a 7.6 million ft² UK logistics portfolio to Prologis, the firm’s Joint Venture (JV) partner for this portfolio.

 

The UK Logistics Venture (UKLV) was formed in 2017 between CBRE Investment Management and Prologis to develop and own €1.2bn (£1bn) of UK logistics assets. Prologis retained 15% of the seed assets and development pipeline.

 

The seed portfolio consisted of 16 logistics parks with a GLA of 2.5 million ft² located in some of the leading logistics destinations in the UK – the Midlands, the South East and London. In four years, the portfolio has grown to 7.6 million ft² and comprises 40 assets of which the majority of the assets are now stabilised or pre-let. 

 

“The business plan for this JV was to hold the assets for a four-year term and then exit. Working with a proven partner like Prologis, we have achieved what we set out to do – to build a prime logistics portfolio in key logistics locations that has performed exceptionally well for our investors,” said Mark Kouters, Fund Manager for ECF, CBRE Investment Management. “At the point of sale, we are also benefitting from a robust capital market environment due to high investor appetite for logistics as well as strong occupier demand.”

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Number of first-time buyers rises 35% in a year, says Halifax

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The number of first-time buyers has reached record levels in the midst of runaway house prices.

Numbers are up 35 per cent, from 303,970 in 2020 to 409,370 in 2021, according to the annual study by Halifax.

And for the first time, the typical age of a buyer is 30-plus in every region. 

The higher levels come at a time when first-time buyers are having to balance saving up as much as they can for a deposit while trying to get onto the property ladder in a red hot market.

The number of first-time buyers in Britain has reached a record level, according to Halifax

The number of first-time buyers in Britain has reached a record level, according to Halifax

NUMBER OF FIRST-TIME BUYERS FROM 2009 THROUGH TO 2021
Number of first-time buyers Annual % change FTBs as % of all house purchases loans
2009 193,940 39%
2010 193,590 0% 37%
2011 187,990 -3% 38%
2012 211,920 13% 40%
2013 258,210 22% 44%
2014 310,280 20% 46%
2015 298,090 -4% 46%
2016 328,500 10% 48%
2017 345,920 5% 49%
2018 353,120 2% 50%
2019 351,260 -1% 51%
2020 303,970 -13% 50%
2021* 409,370 35% 48%
Sources: UK Finance and *Halifax estimate for 2021   

The average price of a home in Britain rose £24,000 last year to £276,091.

All regions across Britain saw a marked rise in the number of first-time buyers, with the biggest increase being in London where numbers rose 49 per cent.

The smallest increase was in Scotland, but even in this region, numbers rose by a quarter.

The number of first-time buyers has more than doubled over the last 10 years in every region except London.

There has been a 118 per cent increase since 2011, up from 187,990 first-time buyers that year.

NUMBER OF FIRST-TIME BUYERS ACROSS DIFFERENT REGIONS
Region 2011 2020 2021* 10-year change 1-year change
North 8,370 13,890 18,422 120% 33%
Yorkshire and the Humber 15,010 25,070 32,792 118% 31%
East Midlands 12,780 23,110 29,850 134% 29%
East Anglia 6,750 11,010 14,640 117% 33%
Greater London 31,290 38,140 56,857 82% 49%
South East 36,630 61,250 85,666 134% 40%
South West 14,670 24,250 32,017 118% 32%
West Midlands 14,740 25,570 33,798 129% 32%
North West 18,470 32,050 40,748 121% 27%
Wales 8,060 12,310 16,815 109% 37%
Scotland 16,220 28,740 35,627 120% 24%
N. Ireland 4,690 8,570 12,110 158% 41%
UK** 187,990 303,970 409,370 118% 35%
Source: Halifax           

As more buyers entered the market, the average first-time buyer deposit fell 6 per cent for Britain.

Halifax explained that the fall in the average deposit was set against a rise in the average purchase price of first homes, meaning that overall the gap between purchase price and deposit widened in every region.

This includes the South West where the average house prices has risen 5 per cent, from £239,434 in 2020 to £252,263 in 2021. At the same time, the average deposit in the region dropped 3 per cent in a year from £51,178 to £49,592 in 2021.

Amid lower affordability, the average age at which someone buys their first home has risen.

The average age of a first-time buyer now stands at 32, up from 29 in 2011 and is now over 30 in every region.

Clackmannanshire has been named as one of the most affordable places for first-time buyers (pictured; the county's town of Alloa)

Clackmannanshire has been named as one of the most affordable places for first-time buyers (pictured; the county’s town of Alloa)

AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE AND AVERAGE DEPOSITS AMONG FIRST-TIME BUYERS
Region Average House Price 2020 (£s) Average House Price 2021 (£s) 1 Yr % change in Average Price Average Deposit 2020 (£s) Average Deposit 2021 (£s) Deposit as % of purchase price 2021 1 Year % change in Deposit
London 488,771 475,819 -3% 130,281 115,759 24% -11%
Scotland 154,821 166,919 8% 35,607 37,038 22% 4%
South West 239,434 252,263 5% 51,178 49,592 20% -3%
South East 322,386 320,591 -1% 66,706 60,953 19% -9%
Northern Ireland 147,394 156,594 6% 29,546 29,199 19% -1%
Wales 165,272 180,392 9% 32,368 33,622 19% 4%
East of England 297,548 303,166 2% 58,531 55,250 18% -6%
North West 175,389 189,588 8% 34,185 33,983 18% -1%
West Midlands 204,948 209,270 2% 41,928 37,159 18% -11%
East Midlands 199,503 210,203 5% 39,077 37,171 18% -5%
North East 145,254 151,814 5% 28,643 26,769 18% -7%
Yorks & Humber 167,267 177,683 6% 33,032 31,212 18% -6%
UK 256,057 264,140 3% 57,278 53,935 20% -6%
Source: Halifax             

Esther Dijkstra, of Halifax, said: ‘There were a number of factors influencing home buying decisions in 2021. 

‘While working from home and the “race for space” was key for many, particularly movers, it is clear that the Stamp Duty holiday increased the availability of first-rung homes as others moved up the ladder.

‘Lifestyles have changed. Over time more people have chosen to go on to higher education, go travelling, or move around for work, which are all factors in the increase in first-time buyer age.

‘However, undoubtedly, the biggest drivers are the cost of homes and the need to save a significant deposit to get on the housing ladder.

‘In 2021, the increase in average house price to £264,140, combined with difficulties in raising a deposit, meant that the gap between purchase price and deposit widened in every region in the UK.’

Merton saw affordability halved: This three-bed semi-detached house between Wimbledon and Colliers Wood is for sale for £799,950 via Dexters estate agents

Merton saw affordability halved: This three-bed semi-detached house between Wimbledon and Colliers Wood is for sale for £799,950 via Dexters estate agents

AREAS WITH THE BIGGEST CHANGES IN AFFORDABILITY
Local Authority Average price 12 months to Dec 2021 (£) Ave earnings 2021 est (£) P/E ratio 2021 P/E ratio 2011 Deterioration in affordability
Merton 513,811 51,880 9.9 4.8 108%
Reigate and Banstead 386,719 47,929 8.1 4.1 97%
South Kesteven 250,788 36,152 6.9 3.6 94%
Westminster 682,361 67,962 10 5.2 94%
Ashford 298,239 35,216 8.5 4.4 92%
Source; Halifax           
Pictured: Camden in London is among the least affordable locations for first-time buyers

Pictured: Camden in London is among the least affordable locations for first-time buyers

The growth of house prices has outstripped that of incomes, with the average price of property for first-time buyers now being 6.9 times their salary.

It follows Halifax announcing earlier this month that house prices rose by £24,500 last year, with average values now standing at £276,091. 

The lender said affordability has fallen since 2011 in all but three local authorities, which are Clackmannanshire, Moray and East Ayrhsire.

Merton saw this price to earnings ratio more than double, which means that affordability halved, while Reigate and Banstead nearly doubled.

The price of an average first-time home is now less than four times the average income – which is considered to be the limit for affordability – in only 15 local authorities around the Britain.

The least affordable local authority for first-time buyers is the London borough of Brent, where homes are 12.3 times average earnings.

By contrast, the most affordable is Clackmannanshire in Scotland, where it is only three times.

Least affordable is London's Brent where this five-bed semi-detached house is for sale for £650,000 via Drivers & Norris estate agents

Least affordable is London’s Brent where this five-bed semi-detached house is for sale for £650,000 via Drivers & Norris estate agents

MOST AFFORDABLE AREAS FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS
Local Authority Region P/E Ratio 2021
Clackmannanshire Scotland 3
West Dunbartonshire Scotland 3.2
East Ayrshire Scotland 3.2
North Ayrshire Scotland 3.3
Renfrewshire Scotland 3.5
Source; Halifax     
LEAST AFFORDABLE AREAS FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS
Local Authority Region P/E Ratio 2021
Brent London 12.3
Camden London 12.2
Haringey London 11.4
Waltham Forest London 10.9
Hillingdon London 10.6
Source: Halifax     

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