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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 17 June 2013

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

Disposal of Surplus Land at the former St Cyres Comprehensive, Dinas Powys Site

Purpose of the Report

1. To request that Cabinet declare land between the rear of Little Orchard and Cherry Close and the former St Cyres Comprehensive, Dinas Powys site, surplus to requirements and approve the sale of this land to the adjacent residents and to Brackley Investments.

Recommendations

1. That the Council owned land currently occupied by owners of Little Orchard and Cherry Close, Dinas Powys is declared surplus to requirements.

2. That the land not required by No1 Cherry Close be included in the sale of land to Brackley Investments for the Medical Centre.

3. That the Director of Resources be authorised to negotiate and undertake the disposal of the surplus land to the owners of 5 and 6 Little Orchard and 1 -5 Cherry Close and the Head of Legal Services to prepare, complete and execute the necessary legal documentation.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. To allow the disposal of the land.

2. In order to pass the responsibility for this strip of land onto the Medical Centre Developers to ensure that the Council is not left with a strip of land maintainable at public expense.

3. To allow the sale of the land to be completed.

Background

2. St Cyres Comprehensive School occupied the site on the southern edge of Dinas Powys from the early 1970's until declining pupil numbers lead to the decision to close the school site in July 2012.

3. On 22 May 1981 South Glamorgan County Council entered into a Deed to let an unused portion of the school site to the then owners of 5 and 6 Little Orchard and nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 Cherry Close to extend their gardens. Legal Services have confirmed that the Deed does not appear to have been determined. The location of these parcels of land is shown on Appendix A.

4. During August and September 2012 adverse possession claims were received from the current owners of nos. 1-5 Cherry Close via Land Registry claiming ownership of the land in question due to long term occupation. These claims are being resisted owing to the consent to use the land pursuant to the Deed on a legal point.

5. Unrelated to the adverse possession claims, on 1 October 2012 Cabinet declared the former St Cyres Comprehensive school site surplus to requirements and approved that a consultation process be undertaken to consider future possible uses for the site (Minute C1841 refers). However the area of land occupied by the adjoining residents was not included within the area declared surplus by Cabinet on 1 October.

6. In addition Cabinet resolved to dispose of the former Tennis Courts at the St Cyres site to Brackley Investments for the development of a new Medical Centre (minute C1308 refers).

Relevant Issues and Options

7. Land Registry has determined that the claims for adverse possession should be determined either via adjudication or negotiation between the parties.

8. Adjudication will determine, on the balance of the evidence provided, the legal owner of the land. Whilst Legal Services have confirmed that a Deed exists regarding use of the land, no guarantee can be given that the adjudication process will find in the Council's favour.

9. The land has been incorporated into the adjacent gardens since 1981 and would not significantly increase either the financial or utility value of the remaining site if it was taken back into Council ownership. Especially as the land in question is at the foot of a steep bank at the edge of the school site which would limit alterative development.

10. The disposal of the land will not impact upon the outcome of the consultation process as the land has been enclosed within the adjoining gardens for over 30 years and is not considered to be part of the school site that has been consulted upon.

11. To avoid this matter being referred directly to adjudication by Land Registry sales negotiations have started with the adjoining owners, Subject to Contract and Subject to Cabinet approval.

12. The complete area of land is to be sold to the adjoining owners, if one resident does not wish to purchase the land it will be offered to the adjoining owners either side. The aim is to avoid retaining small areas of land within Council ownership incurring future management costs.

13. The owners of 1 Cherry Close have confirmed that they only wish to purchase the land to the end of their garden. The strip of land to the side will be a burden to the Council with regards to future maintenance and it is therefore recommended that Brackley Investments are requested to include this land with the site they have already agreed to purchase for the Medical Centre..

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14. Other than the land proposed to be transferred to Brackley Investments, the land will be sold at market value and a suitable restrictive covenant imposed on the sale in order that the land may not be used or developed for any other purpose other than residential gardens.

15. The capital receipt achieved through the sale of this land would be retained within the School Investment Programme.

16. The adjoining owners will be responsible for the payment of fees associated with the negotiations and eventual sale of the land.

17. The Strip of land to be included in the Medical Centre site will not increase the value of the land that Cabinet have previously agreed be sold to Brackley Investments for the Medical Centre, and therefore it is proposed that this strip be included in the sale to Brackley for no additional cost to Brackley.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

18. There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising from this matter.

 Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

19. The Council has a statutory duty pursuant to S123 of the Local Government Act 1972 to secure the best consideration that can reasonably be expected to be obtained. Albeit that there are exceptions to the statutory duty, such exceptions are not being relied upon in the given case.

20. Owing to legal issues with the Deed, and following a meeting with the adjoining owners, Legal Services have served notices to determine the Deed on 22 May 2014.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

23. To dispose of redundant or under utilised Council assets in accordance with the objectives of the Corporate Asset Management Plan.

Policy Framework and Budget

24. This is a matter for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

25. The proposal to sell the land to the adjoining residents has been discussed with, and is supported by, local ward members.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

26. Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Mark Haynes, School Organisation and Buildings Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Jodi Winter, Operational Manager - Legal Services

Lorna Cross, Group Estates Officer

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Office