Land News

A Valuable Shack

Lawson Fairbank, 30th March, 2005

Three or four decades ago some very fine specimens of vernacular housing could be found in the countryside of the north of England but since then their maintenance has become economically unviable and they have been left to the elements.

Not all of them have been reduced ruins: some still have their walls, some are partly tumbled down. Most of them however are deemed to be uninhabitable and are vacant and all but forgotten.

But as land scarcity becomes a real problem, and the hunt for useful Brownfield sites continues to increase, such sites are stirring considerable interest. When assessing the merits of a Brownfield site, authorities are first and foremost interested in whether the property has been abandoned. In order to determine this, the authority investigates the following factors:

  • The length of time it has been left;
  • The uses to which it has been put;
  • The state of the property;
  • The owner's intention.

However, even if the authority deems the property as ‘abandoned’ and thus forbids its re-occupancy, the land owner has a legal right to serve a notice on the authority, meaning that the authority will have to pay up: a sort of reversed compulsory purchase.

If the notice is accepted the landowner is entitled to receive the full value of the property as if it were a site with planning permission: not by any means bad for a worthless ruin!

Although the laws in this area are often unclear, it is believed that there may only be a limited window of opportunity to make these type of claims so if you are the owner of such a site, its worth spending the time to find out whether you could be sitting on a fortune.

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