This blog post aims to answer the question of how can someone buy land from the council. While we will mainly discuss the process of application in this regard, we will also discuss some key factors that potential buyers may need to consider as they plan the purchase.

How Can I Buy Land From The Council?

You can apply to buy land owned by the council authorities under exceptional circumstances, however, the land that you intend to purchase should fulfil the below-listed criteria:

  • the size of the proposed land should be less than 50 square metres 
  • it should be declared unsuitable for redevelopment 
  • the land should not be in use by the public 

If the piece of land that one intends to buy from the council includes estate greens or alleyways, these are not up for sale to the general public.

If the piece of land that you are interested in buying from the council meets the eligibility criteria, you can apply to purchase it through the council’s website. You will need the following documents as you file a formal application or intent to buy:

  • proof of confirmation that the intended land area is less than 50 square metres
  • a photograph or map of the location
  • details of the purpose for which you will be using the land
  • justified explanation of how your application qualifies to meet the eligibility criteria
  • proof of your identity through documents such as a driving licence or passport

You should seek written confirmation of the intended land’s ownership with the council; even if you are sure of it. Alternatively, you can contact the Land Registry at 0300 006 0411 or the following address to confirm the ownership details of the land:

Land Registry Citizen Centre

PO Box 74

Gloucester

GL14 9BB

You can expect to hear from the council authorities between 5 to 7 working days with their decision regarding your application. In addition to a refusal or approval, they will also indicate the name of the development officer who will be dealing with your application. 

Applicants must keep in view the following important points during the application process:

  • council authorities are not obliged to consider each application with an intent to purchase land owned by them
  • in addition to the price of the land itself, there can be additional charges for the council’s services and solicitor’s fees that the applicant will have to bear
  • the entire process of applying to possess the land cant take up to 6 months (or more)
  • there can be certain development restrictions on the land that one buys from the council authorities
  • the land can be sold as freehold or leasehold; the decision will lie at the council’s discretion and will depend on the circumstances on a case-to-case basis

What Is The Application Process For Buying Land From The Council?

The process of buying land from the council involves a series of steps that can take nearly six months to complete. However. Before filing a formal application with your local council authorities, you should first confirm that the land that you intend to purchase is owned by the council. This can be done by looking up the Government Property Finder or the HM Land Registry online. 

Once done, you can apply with an intent to buy with the local council office. Once your application is received, you can expect the following steps to be followed during the process:

  • You can expect to hear from the local council office within five working days. If your application is approved, they will share details of a fully completed application as well as inform you of the name and telephone number of the development officer who will be managing your application.
  • In the next 28 days, you can expect to receive information regarding a contact who will inform you whether or not the council has agreed to the sale of the land. You will also get to learn about how your application has been assessed against the eligibility criteria.
  • If the council authorities agree to the sale, you will be asked to pay the £ 550+ VAT fee before the application moves to the next step in the process.
  • Once your payment is through, the council will commence a 28-day consultation period.
  • Since the council carries a responsibility to consult with people who are going to be affected by the sale of land owned by the council they will ask the residents, housing officers responsible for the management of the estate, ward councillors for the area as well as the Cabinet Member to comment on how they the sale of the land will affect them, the community and the environment.
  • Once the consultation closes, the council will inform you within seven working days to share the results of the consultation and inform you whether or not any additional information is required to justify the sale of the land.
  • As soon as the council has the required information, the valuation process of the land will start so that the sale price of the land can be ascertained. This will be discussed with you before a final decision regarding the sale of the land can be made.
  • Once there is an agreement on the price between the buyer and the council will request authority regarding the sale from either a Chief Officer, the Leader of the Council or the Cabinet.
  • Legal change of the land’s ownership can take nine weeks (or more). During this time, the council’s Legal Services team will contact the buyer’s solicitors to complete the conveyancing process.

What Factors Should Be Considered When Buying Land From The Council?

Below is a list of factors that you may wish to consider before you express your intention to purchase land owned by the council authorities:

  • the maximum amount that you are willing and able to pay for the land in question
  • whether or not you have the finance to make the purchase readily available to you or will you have to raise finance. In the case of the latter, what is the estimated amount of time that will take if you require professional advice regarding the value of the property 
  • would you need someone else to represent you or negotiate the deal on your behalf?
  • consider and review recent sales transactions of similar property types to give you an idea of the current market value 
  • assure that you understand the restrictions or conditions of sales laid down in the offer letter
  • you may need to consult the Council’s Planning Department if you plan to change the use of the land or property or intend to develop it

Conclusion:

The above discussion provides details on how to go about when planning to buy a piece of land from the council authorities. However, the first point to consider for any interested buyer is to first confirm that the piece of land that they are interested in is indeed owned by the council and meets the eligibility criteria for the sale. 

References:

Apply to buy land from the Council | Purchase a small area of housing land | Royal Borough of Greenwich

Find government property and land to rent or buy – GOV.UK

Buying land or property from the Council

Purchasing Council owned land or property