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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Welsh Church Act Estate Committee: 4th February 2013

 

Report of the Director of Resources

 

Encroachment of Land at Hayes Road/Sully Road

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To advise members of an encroachment onto land owned by the Welsh Church Act Estate and to provide details in connection with what has been actioned as a result of this encroachment.

Recommendation

1.             That Committee note the position with an encroachment of land adjacent Beechwood College in Sully and the action taken as a result to date

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             To keep members of Committee updated as to the current situation with the encroachment and the action taken to deal with the same.

Background

2.             This Committee owns land at the location as identified on the plan attached as Appendix A.

3.             During October 2012, it was noted that works had been undertaken on this area of land in the ownership of Welsh Church Act Estate without this Committee's consent. The works were noted to include:

(a) Partial Removal of western boundary, creation of steps on the land, regrading of the surface of the land, seeding of the land, erection of a post and rail ranch style fencing;

(b) Erection of an advertising banner on the boundary fence;

(c) Erection of close boarded fence along part of the boundary;

(d) Installation of a galvanised steel pedestrian gate.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.             Research was undertaken by officers in the Council's Estates Section to try and establish when the works had been undertaken (by checking historic GIS mapping and aerial photographs).  It appears that various works have been undertaken over a number of years however some of the works i.e. fencing and steps installation, are more recent (probably undertaken since the summer of 2012).

5.             In consultation with the Chairman of this Committee a letter was sent to the owners of Beechwood College advising them that their entry onto the Committee's land to carry out these works and the presence of the completed works themselves amounted to a trespass.  The letter also required Beechwood College to submit proposals for reinstatement of the land to the condition it was prior to the carrying out of the unlawful works referred to above.

6.             A response was received from Beechwood College which stated that they had been undertaking works of improvements on the land for a number of years following an attempt, they say, to ascertain land ownership.  They advised that they consulted Sully Community Council on the issue of land ownership.  At the time of their enquiries they say that the land was not registered.  I can confirm that the Council's Legal Department have confirmed that the land has been registered in the Trust's ownership since 2006.

7.             The response from Beechwood College also stated that the works that they had undertaken had actually improved the land and had cleared unlawful dumping of rubbish on this land. They also advised that the Committee has responsibility for maintaining the land and it should acknowledge the works of improvement by the College.

8.             The Chair of this Committee was consulted on this matter and subsequently approved a letter which was sent out to Beechwood College in November 2012 in response.  The response noted the comments made by Beechwood College and enclosed a copy of the Trust's legal Title to the land together with a plan.   As it was acknowledged that the land was in a better condition than it had been prior to the unlawful works, it was felt that it would be in the Trust's interests not to demand that the land be reinstated to its former condition.  The letter of response to Beechwood College therefore confirmed that it was appropriate to not require removal of any of the works carried out on the land provided that there was no further trespass in relation to the land.

9.             The advertising banner has however been removed from the boundary fence.

 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.        There are no direct resource implications as a result of this report, other than the officer time taken in investigating and pursuing the encroachment issue.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

11.        The Committee has a duty to manage lands held by them in accordance with the Scheme of the Trust and with Charity Law.

Crime and Disorder Implications

12.        There are no known crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

13.        None

Corporate/Service Objectives

14.        The sole concern of the Committee is to act in the best interests of the Trust.

Policy Framework and Budget

15.        Not applicable.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

16.        Since the members of the Committee are acting as Committee Members, independent of the other Council resolutions, no further consultation has taken place.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

17.        None

Background Papers

18.        None

Contact Officer

Lorna Cross, Group Estates Officer

Officers Consulted

Mike Walsh, Solicitor, Legal Services

Tony Williams, Accountant, Financial Services

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Director of Resources

 

 

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