Common questions and answers for purchasing Council land or property.
The procedures below also apply to other land and property matters such as applications to: lease Council owned land, Wayleaves, Easements, Licences, Variation or Extinguishment of Covenants, Access Agreements, requests to site Builders Compounds and temporary use of Council owned land etc.
What happens if I want to buy Council owned land?
Firstly, the Council must decide if it wishes to sell or keep the area of land in question. This involves an internal process of consultation with Council Officers and Ward Members before a decision is made and before any negotiations can take place.
What do I do if I want to purchase Council owned land or property or wish to apply to the Council regarding another land and property matter??
Your application must be submitted in writing to the Directorate of Corporate Resources, preferably with a sketch plan identifying the land/property, stating why you wish to purchase the land/property and its intended use, or what you wish the Council to consider, together with the non refundable administration fee. (top)
There are 3 different fees listed on the fees list. Which fee do I submit with my application?
If you require information from us before you decide to submit a full application, please put this in writing, together with a cheque for the amount of Fee 1.
Should the matter go forward for consultation by a Property Manager, Fee 2 will be payable before further work commences.
Should your application be for temporary consent to cross Council owned land to, for example, repair your boundary fence, please submit your application in writing with Fee 3.
All other applications will require the payment of Fee 2 before work can commence.
Please note that the Council may refuse any application to:
Purchase or lease land that is considered to be a corner plot within a Council housing estate.
Purchase or lease land that forms parts of Council tenancies.
Grant, extinguish or vary rights across land held for the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).
Grant, extinguish or vary rights reserved to the Council across privately owned property.
Enforce clauses within leases which seek to restrict the range of goods and use of shops sold or let by the Council and located in housing estates.
If you are unsure whether the matter you are interested in falls within one of the above categories, you may still make an application but you must submit Fee 1 with your application before it can be considered.
All fees are non refundable.
If you want to find out who owns a piece of land you should check with:
Coventry District Land Registry Office.
Tel: 08448 921111 (top)
If your request to purchase land involves changing the use of that land (for example, from open space to private garden land) then it is recommended that you seek advice of the Council’s Planning Policy and Development Control teams before you submit your application. See contacts list below. (top)
What if I have difficulty in writing?
If you cannot provide a written application, one of our Officers will be pleased to meet with you either at our offices, or at your home by appointment. (top)
What if I can’t provide a plan showing the area I want?
We will send you a plan of the area, for you to mark the exact area and return to us. (top)
The land I am interested in is adjacent to my Council house that I have purchased from the Council. Can I buy this extra land under The Right to Buy rule, as well?
No, “Right to Buy” applies only to your Council house tenancy. Applications to buy additional land have to be dealt with using the procedure we are describing. (top)
What happens once I have made my application?
Initial investigations will be undertaken and we will advise you in writing if your application will be considered. If so, we will inform you of the name and telephone number of the Officer dealing with your application and what will happen next. (top)
What will happen next?
The matter will be passed to a Property Manager who will consult with the relevant Council Directorates regarding your application. This part of the process will take approximately 12 weeks but can take longer.
Once the Officer consultation is complete, the case will be assessed and a recommendation will be put forward for consideration by the Ward Members for the area. (top)
Ward Member Consultation
Each Ward in the Borough has 3 elected Councillors who are your Ward Members. Your Property Manager will consult with the relevant Ward Members once the Officer consultation is complete. Once their views have been gained, the matter will be considered by the Director of Corporate Resources who will make a decision. You will then be advised in writing of this decision.
In some cases, the Ward Members or the Director may wish to refer the matter for consideration by the local Community Forum before a decision is made and this will mean that it will take considerably longer for a decision to be made. (top)
What happens if your application is referred for consideration by the Community Forum?
Each Community Forum meets 5 times a year and is an opportunity for elected Members and the general public to meet to discuss issues affecting the area. There are currently 9 Community Forums within the Borough. Further details regarding the Community Forums can be obtained from the Councils web site.
Please be aware that information regarding your application may be made available to this public meeting unless it contains sensitive information that is considered exempt as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act, 1972.
Will the Community Forum make the decision regarding my application?
No it is for consultation only. Once the views of Ward Members and the Forum are received the matter will be decided by the Director of Corporate Resources unless he wishes to refer the decision making to the relevant Cabinet Member. (top)
What is a Cabinet Member?
Some elected Members of the Council’s Cabinet are responsible for making decisions and they are called Cabinet Members. (top)
Will the Cabinet Member make the decision then?
If the Director considers it appropriate, The Cabinet Member will be asked to make a decision by signing a Decision Sheet which will be prepared and submitted for signature by your Property Manager. Once the decision is made it can then be implemented by Council Officers. (top)
If my application is refused, is there an appeals procedure?
There is no appeals procedure, but if you feel that you have additional information, or justification to support your application that has not already been considered, or if you amend your application in some way, we may be able to process your application again, based on the new information.
Please note that you may be charged a further administration fee if your revised application involves undertaking the consultation process again. (top)
What happens once a decision is made?
If the decision is to refuse your application, you will be advised in writing.
If the decision is to approve your application, your Property Manager will advise you in writing and instruct the Council’s Surveyor.
We will ask for a plan of the land to be drawn up by the Councils Land Surveyor. It will show the measurements of the site and any constraints (i.e. public services). (top)
The Surveyor will not normally contact you until these plans have been completed.
The Surveyor will normally wait until the Land Surveyors plans have been received and then prepare a valuation of the land/property.
The Surveyor may also make a site visit in the course of this preparation work.
The Surveyor will then make contact with you to agree terms and conditions of the sale.
Once all of the terms and conditions have been agreed with you, the Council’s Solicitors will be instructed to prepare the legal documents.
At this stage you should think about contacting your own Solicitor. (top)
Important points that you should be aware of.
1) Public open space. If the land you wish to purchase is held as Public Open Space, the Local Government Act 1972 requires the Council to advertise the disposal of Public Open Space in a local newspaper for two consecutive weeks and to consider any objections received. You will have to pay for the cost of advertising and will be given an estimate of the likely cost at the time. You will then be invoiced for the advertising costs. If we receive any objections to the disposal, these will have to be considered before a decision is made.
2) Open market sale. The Council is obliged by law, under the Local Government Act 1972, to sell land for the best price reasonably obtainable. This means that in some cases if, following consultation, it is considered that the land you have asked to purchase could be of interest to other parties or could be sold for development land, the Council must advertise it for sale on the open market. In such a case you will be sent sales details once prepared and will be able to make an offer for the land along with any other interested party. Please note that your admin fee will not be refundable in such cases.
3) Administration fee. Before we can start work on your application, you will need to pay the appropriate non refundable administration fee. It is payable to offset some of the costs involved in processing your application, but it does not cover the full cost. Payment of the fee will not guarantee that your application is approved and it is entirely separate to the valuation of the land. This fee is reviewed each year and effective from 1st April. There are no exemptions.
4) Planning consent. Planning consent may be required for change of use or development of the land, or for other matters such as fencing and boundary treatment. You are responsible for finding out if planning consent is required and you should make your own enquiries about this aspect of your proposals with Development Control Planning Officers. See contacts list.
It is your responsibility to ensure that any consents required are gained. Should you submit a planning application to include the Councils land you must serve the appropriate notice and you may address this to the relevant Property Manager. Please note that the Council as Land owner is different from the Planning Authority. Therefore although you may be granted planning consent, this does not guarantee that your application to the Council as land owner will be approved.
5) Other Fees. Once a sale has been agreed, you will be required to pay the agreed price for the land together with the Council’s Legal and Surveyors fees incurred in the matter, as well as your own fees. For guidance please refer to the fee list attached to this leaflet. (top)
Do I have to use a Solicitor?
No, it’s not a legal requirement but is advisable to protect your own interests. The Councils legal team cannot advise or assist you as they are employed to protect the Councils interests in the transaction. (top)
What does the Councils Solicitor do?
Once the Council’s Solicitor has been instructed, a Contract for Sale will be drawn up. This will be sent to your Solicitor for approval.
You should talk to your Solicitor directly about the service on offer, but generally it will involve the consideration of the draft contract and undertaking Local Authority Searches, asking questions about plans for new roads, planning consents and other matters that could affect the value of the land/property in the future. The local authority charges a fee for providing Local Land Charge information and the cost of this Search will be included in your Solicitor’s bill. You may have to pay for this in advance of submitting the Search.
Next, your Solicitor will send a set of Preliminary Enquiries to the Council. This is a set of questions covering matters such as, who is responsible for the boundaries and what fixtures and fittings are included in the sale price.
Once the contract terms are agreed and your Solicitor has received satisfactory replies to all of the Preliminary Enquiries, Contracts for Sale can be signed and formally exchanged. It is at this point that the transaction becomes “binding”.
The signed contract will include a completion date. This is the date when the land/property becomes yours.
At the point of exchange of contracts you are likely to have to pay a deposit to the Council through your Solicitor, usually this is 10% of the sale price. (top)
What else happens between contracts and completion stage?
Your Solicitor will prepare the Transfer Deed, which is the document that records you as the new legal owner of the land/property at HM Land Registry. The transfer will be sent to the Council’s Solicitor who will arrange for it to be sealed on behalf of the Council, in readiness for completion. On the day of completion, the Transfer will be handed to your Solicitor, together with the Title Deeds (and any keys) in return for the purchase monies, which your Solicitor will have received from you and/or your funder.
This is likely to be the last contact your Solicitor will need to have with the Council unless he requires the Council to assist him with dealing with any enquiries that may arise on his application for registration at HM Land Registry. (top)
If I want to have an update with regard to my purchase of the land/property, who should I ask?
Once the Council’s Solicitor has been instructed, you should contact your own Solicitor regarding progress. (top)
All this seems very complicated and to take a long time. Is there no easier way?
I’m afraid not. The Council has legal obligations in the sale of land/property and other land transactions. (top)
When will I need to insure the land/property?
Your Solicitor will advise you but it should be from the date of Exchange of Contracts, as the Council’s policy will not cover it from that time. (top)
Do I need to do anything after completion?
Completion marks the end of the process so far as the Council is concerned but there are still some matters for you and your Solicitor to deal with before the property can be properly regarded as being in your ownership, including completion of a Land Transaction Return for the Inland Revenue, payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax if appropriate and registration at HM Land Registry.
The information contained in this leaflet is available on the Councils web site at www.dudley.gov.uk, together with other information on Council services. (top)
For initial enquiries & to submit applications:
For General queries:
For Surveying queries:
For Legal queries:
For Local Land Charges
For Planning Enquiries: