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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 1 February 2012

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning

 

Llangan Primary School, access road to proposed new car park

 

Purpose of the Report

To advise Cabinet as to the land ownership issues relating to the access lane leading to the proposed school car park (Appendix 1) and to request Cabinet endorse their previous approval to proceed with the planned development of the school car park after consideration of the same.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet note the land ownership issues relating to the access lane leading to the proposed school car park

2.             That, after the indemnity insurance policy is entered in to by the Council, Cabinet endorse its previous approval for the construction of the school car park taking into account the landownership issues relating to the lane

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To note the position

2.             To allow the construction of the car park to proceed.

Background

Cabinet approved the acquisition of land adjacent to Llangan Primary school to enable the construction of a car park for the school to remove the existing dangers being faced by parents dropping off and collecting children from the school on 1 September 2010 (minute C1033).

Planning consent was granted for the new car park on 4 March 2011.

Whilst title documents have been received from the land owner relating to the site of the proposed car park, no title documents have been received relating to the access lane from the main road to the proposed car park site.

5.             Investigations with the Land Registry have revealed that the access lane is not registered; hence the owner cannot be determined. In an attempt to resolve this issue, an application has been submitted to the Land Registry by the land owner of the proposed car park site to assert a claim of ownership to the access lane by right of continued use over many years. However this was rejected by the Land Registry.

6.             In a further attempt to clarify ownership of the access lane, the School Organisation and Access Manager has spoken to the owner of the land located either side of the access lane who has verbally confirmed that although he has owned his land since the 1950's, he does not own the access lane and suggests that it may be the former parish road leading to Treoes.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.             Despite exhaustive investigations the owner of the access lane has to date not been established.

8.             The lane currently provides access solely to a field, part of which is to be used for the proposed car park. Access to the fields either side of the access lane are via gates adjacent to the main road at the junction with the access lane. The School Organisation and Access Manager has spoken to both land owners and the tenant occupying one of the fields adjacent to the access lane regarding the proposal to tarmac the lane to provide access to the car park. All three have verbally advised that they are fully supportive of the proposal and actively want the scheme to progress.

9.             However, as the owner of the access lane cannot be identified, the Council is unable to obtain any formal legal right to either construct the tarmac access lane or to use the lane to gain access to the proposed car park. There therefore remains the risk that a third party could in the future come forward and either prevent users of the car park from passing over the access lane i.e. create a landlocked parcel of land; or demand payment to allow the continued use i.e. a ransom strip.

10.        The owner of the fields either side of the access lane has verbally advised that he has no information of any person attempting to claim ownership of the lane during his period of ownership. As stated above, the only current user of the access lane (the land owner of the proposed car park site) has tried to claim ownership of the lane but, this has been refused by the Land Registry.

11.        Taking into account above, whilst it would appear very unlikely that an owner with good title to the access lane may come forward in the future and prevent the use of the access lane to the car park, there will remain a risk to the Council that this may occur.

12.        To reduce the risk to the Council, Legal Services have obtained a quote for indemnity insurance to cover actual loss incurred, up to £150,000.00, should the Council be prevented from using the access lane to gain entry to the proposed car park. There is no excess associated with this policy. The premium for this insurance policy is a one off payment of £185.71 inclusive of insurance premium tax. The policy excludes claims from Mr Holmfray and Mr Morgan, the adjoining land owners, both of whom have previously provided verbal support for the scheme. The Council has not entered into this policy but will take out the policy if deemed necessary by Cabinet to protect the Council's interests.

13.        Cabinet are therefore requested to endorse its previous decision to proceed with the construction of the new car park whilst acknowledging the risk to the Council as it is unable to obtain appropriate rights of ownership to the access lane leading to the proposed car park nor appropriate rights of access over it.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14.        The construction of the school car park is included within the 2011/12 capital programme having been slipped from the 2010/11 programme. The Operational Manager Highways and Engineering has recently confirmed that due to workload pressures, if approved by Cabinet to proceed, it will probably not be possible to complete the project this financial year necessitating a further slippage of capital funding to 2012/13.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.        Whilst the Council is able to obtain the freehold title to the land upon which it is proposed the car park will be constructed, it is unable to obtain appropriate rights of either ownership to the access lane or access over it. Should this project proceed, the Council will therefore remain open to the low risk that a future claim of ownership of the lane may be made and that it may be prevented from making use of the access lane.

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.        . There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this matter.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.        There are no equal opportunities implications arising from this matter.

Corporate/Service Objectives

18.        Ensuring a safe environment for learners attending Vale schools.

Policy Framework and Budget

19.        This is a matter for executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

20.        Jacquie, please can you progress the required consultation.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

21.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

Site Plan

Contact Officer

Mark Haynes, School Organisation and Access Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Stuart Lyon, Lawyer

Lorna Cross, Group Estates Officer

Michael Clogg, Principal Engineer (Highways)

Responsible Officer:

Bryan Jeffreys

Director of Learning and Development

 

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