Acquiring or Using Council Owned Land

The majority of land owned by the council is open space. If there is an area of open space adjoining your property that you would like to purchase or require access over please apply by using our Council Land Enquiry form, you will be required to upload plans and other documents.

The council is under no obligation to sell any land you request to buy, but we will always consider the request made unless it meets one of the following criteria:

  • The council has a policy of not selling certain types of land (for example, some open space)
  • There are also pieces of land which may appear vacant and unused but are in fact held for strategic reasons (for example, highway improvement or future housing/commercial development). It is unlikely that the council would be able to sell sites of strategic importance
  • Some areas of land may have title restrictions attached to them and this may mean we are unable to dispose of them

What happens once I've completed the form?

The following information explains the process that may have to happen before a decision can be made. Please bear in mind that they may not all apply to your particular application, or that other issues may be brought to light during the process.

Once you have completed the application form and attached all of the information required, it will be forwarded to the Land Enquiries team who will check that the council own the land. 

At this point an informal consultation will begin to determine whether or not the council wishes to sell or keep the area of land in question. This decision will be based on a number of factors and you will be advised in writing of the outcome.

If the council does not wish to proceed with selling the land you will be advised of the reasons for the refusal. If the council is willing to sell the land you will be advised of the procedure and fees involved and asked to confirm that you are willing to proceed with the application.

Consultation

Once you have confirmed that you wish to proceed the council will undertake a process of consultation to check there are no objections or reasons why the sale cannot take place.  

The consultation may involve the following:

  • Council services
  • Legal
  • Grounds maintenance
  • Ward members
  • Parish council
  • The Planning Authority (to determine if planning permission for change of use is required)
  • Adjoining land owners
  • Residents
  • Any other interested parties

This process usually takes a number of months due to workloads and staff availability, and for more complicated cases, the consultation period may be longer. You will be updated via your online application of the status of your application, and if any further evidence is required from you.

If no objections are raised from any consultees the application will proceed to valuation. 

Valuation

Valuations of land are carried out by Canterbury City Council and, before we instruct them to proceed with a valuation, we will ask you to pay a fee of £500.00 plus VAT. This is to cover the cost of the time spent carrying out the valuation. This does not cover the cost of the land – you will be advised of that cost once the valuation report has been issued. The valuer will provide us with a market value of the cost of the land and you will be advised of this in writing and asked whether or not you wish to proceed.

If you wish to proceed with purchasing the land you should instruct a solicitor to deal with the purchase. We will also instruct our solicitors. If you require planning permission this should be in place before instructing solicitors.

Planning Permission

Planning permission may be needed depending on what you intend to use the land for. You should make your own enquiries with the Planning Authority (see our Making Planning Applications page).

If planning permission is granted it may be necessary to advertise the sale of council-owned open space in accordance with s123 (2)(a) and (b) of the Local Government Act 1972. You would be responsible for the costs of these advertisements which are likely to be in the region of £700 (please note that this fee is set by the local newspaper and is therefore variable).

Fees

Please note that purchasing land from the council can be a costly procedure and there are a number of fees that you will be asked to pay:

  • Officer time looking into the request including time spent consulting with other teams, which will cost £193.00 (plus VAT)
  • The cost of carrying out the valuation, which is usually in the region of £500 (plus VAT)
  • The purchase price of the land
  • The council's legal costs, usually in the region of £500
  • Your own legal costs
  • The cost of obtaining planning permission for a change of use from open space, which will cost £335 

Please note: these costs will not be refundable if the sale should not proceed for any reason. All fees quoted above are used as a guide only and are subject to review and may vary depending on the nature of the transaction and the amount of officer time taken.

I wish to apply for access over council land

You may wish to apply to use or access council land for a specific purpose rather than purchase the land.

The type of agreement you need to apply for depends on what you require the access for. Below are explanations of the different types of access:

Easement: An easement is a permanent right of access over council land. An easement stays with the property forever and is paid for once. You may wish to apply for an easement if you are a private individual company and need to cross land owned by the council to access part of your property or to lay cables/pipes to part of your property. An easement gives you rights to use the land in a specific way and does not give you ownership of the land in question or rights to use the land in any other way. 

Wayleave: A wayleave is a right to lay pipework under ABC land, this is a temporary agreement for a stated period of time and is usually for utility companies.

Licence: If you wish to use council land for a specific purpose but not purchase it you may wish to apply to licence the land. A licence is a legally binding agreement between yourself and the council which gives you rights to use a specified area of land, usually for a specific purpose. The length and cost of the licence will be determined by what you wish to use the land for.

Dropped Kerb: You can apply for a dropped kerb if you wish to have access over land to park on your private property. In Ashford the land may be owned by our Housing Services Department or Kent County Council (KCC). Ownership of the land will be confirmed when you apply. If the land is owned by KCC you will have to apply to them for permission. You will also have to apply for planning permission to change the use of the land.

To apply for access on or over council land please click on the link at the top of the page and complete the application form providing all the information requested. There is no guarantee that your application will be agreed but you will be advised in writing of the decision.

A valuation of the land in question may need to be carried out and there will be fees attached.