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TREES ON CROWN LAND


SarahD
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I saw your site referenced on the moneysavingexpert site, but I'm not an arborist, so forgive me if I'm trespassing here.

 

I have a question about trees on Crown Land.  A very small piece of land - less than 20m square probably - sits next to my house and has five trees on, a couple of which are taller than my house.  I understand that the land used to belong to the house builders, but they went into liquidation and so automatically that land is transferred to the Crown.  

 

A few years ago I did enquire about purchasing the land, but it was too expensive.  I believe, though unsure, I have the right to maintain the trees, but it's unfortunately out of my budget to arrange for the trees to be lopped and the Crown seemingly have no responsibilities.  The local council won't help.  Do I just have to make sure I have adequate insurance in case the trees damage my property, either with their roots (they are only around 8 metres from the house wall) or because they fall in a storm?

  

I'd appreciate any advice.

 

Thank you.

 

Edited by SarahD
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I am not sure what you mean by 'Crown Land' - are you saying it now belongs to The Crown Estate or has it defaulted to HMRC or another public body? 

 

I used to work for Crown Estate on a part time basis and they used to take their third party responsibilities very seriously - to the extent that we had to update their 'risk register' every month.

 

Irrespective of the above you are entitled to maintain anything which hangs over your property, but have to offer the arisings back to the owner of the trees.

 

In your situation it may be worth writing to whoever you found to be the landowner and raise your concerns - they may then decide to take action but, even if not, you can still demonstrate to your insurers that you have tried to manage the situation.

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Thank you.  So, it's land that belonged to the builders of the housing estate that went bust.  The land has been passed to the Crown - so yes, Crown Estate.  I contacted the Crown Estate solicitor Burges Salmon who act on their behalf when I was wondering about purchasing it and it was made clear that they take no responsibility for the trees.  My property only extends a metre from my house wall and the trees/wasteland are beyond that.  They are growing in every direction, untamed.  However, your idea of contacting them again to lay out my concerns regarding the trees, is a good one.  Still, knowing all the caveats buried in insurance documents, I'm sure they'll find a loophole if the worst happens.  I worry every time the wind blows.

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3 hours ago, SarahD said:

 I understand that the land used to belong to the house builders, but they went into liquidation and so automatically that land is transferred to the Crown.  

I've head of this happening, it's a shame they came back to you with a valuation you cannot afford. If no one else has an interest or likely to dob you inwhy not fence it off and maintain it for the next 20 years, then claim adverse possession?

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55 minutes ago, openspaceman said:

I've head of this happening, it's a shame they came back to you with a valuation you cannot afford. If no one else has an interest or likely to dob you inwhy not fence it off and maintain it for the next 20 years, then claim adverse possession?

I thought it was 12 years, but could well be mistaken? When I lived in Suffolkshire my neighbour grabbed a bit of land next to his bungalow, if he could get it passed as a plot it would be £150k plus, it's doubtful though, no new houses have been built in the village since God was a boy.

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21 minutes ago, eggsarascal said:

I thought it was 12 years, but could well be mistaken

It's much more difficult now and you cannot register  the land without the landowner being told and given the opportunity to put up a fight but it could become a negotiating point.

 

It may be worth paying the land registry the few quid to ascertain whether the crown did  get proper  title, something similar happened to my dad's access drive but the title was passed to a trust before the developer liquidated and he was able to buy the land shared with his neighbour.

Edited by openspaceman
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There are lots of little pockets of land on the housing estate that the Crown Estate now owns.  I saw one householder (who I used to walk past on a regular basis) gradually clear an area, only around 6 by 4 metres, and maybe 6 months later put up new fencing around it.  Subsequently, I saw the fence had been removed and erected around (what I guess was) the original boundary.  I've never enquired, but I'm assuming somebody complained or reported them.  The land next to my house could definitely not accommodate the narrowest house and I believe that even if it was legally bought from the Crown Estate, there is a bar on any development, which is fair enough.  It's more than a tad annoying though that the Crown Estate gets the land for free, will not maintain it in any way, but will sell it to you maybe (no guarantee) after you've incurred all the solicitor's fees.   I was hoping (and I searched for this) that the land maintenance issue had been challenged in court before and had gone against the Crown Estate.   I wonder what would happen to all this land if we became a republic? 

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6 minutes ago, SarahD said:

wonder what would happen to all this land if we became a republic? 

It would be no different; the crown estate is effectively the government now as the royal family gave up any interest in the crown estate in favour of the sovereign grant.

Edited by openspaceman
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10 minutes ago, openspaceman said:

It's much more difficult now and you cannot register  the land without the landowner being told and given the opportunity to put up a fight but it could become a negotiating point.

 

It may be worth paying the land registry the few quid to ascertain whether the crown did  get proper  title, something similar happened to my dad's access drive but the title was passed to a trust before the developer liquidated and he was able to buy the land shared with his neighbour.

I did a few years ago enquire through Land Registry about the land, as I had no idea who owned it.  It was decided that it was Crown Estate and I contacted Burges Salmon the solicitors.  I was put off from the start because (I seem to remember) that you have to agree to pay solicitor's fees up-front and then you buy the land (if they eventually agree) at market price.  Quite frankly, even the solicitor's fees scared me and to pay all that and the possibility of not getting the land anyway!

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8 minutes ago, openspaceman said:

It would be no different; the crown estate is effectively the government now as the royal family gave up any interest in the crown estate in favour of the sovereign grant.

I didn't know that.  Maybe my local MP may be worth a try....although I feel defeated just thinking about that option.

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