Reclaiming common land for the community

The 180 acres of common land in and around Chislehurst have passed through generations of monarchs and landed aristocracy since the 10th century.

Anyone seeking access or rights of way up to the present day would have to apply to the Lordship for permission.

The open green spaces and ponds have been managed and maintained since the latter part of the 19th century by The Chislehurst and St Pauls Cray Commons Conservators, but its resources were insufficient to buy freehold land and in fact, its governing legislation prevented it from doing so.

When the opportunity arose to acquire the commons in their entirety after more than 1,000 years of private ownership, The Chislehurst Society stepped in and bought the freehold on behalf of the community.

A legal basis for purchasing the land

The Chislehurst Society CIO approached Susan Heads, a senior property lawyer at Wellers Law Group to undertake the coordination of the legal requirements for a proposed purchase of the land from the Lordship, to bring it fully under control of the local community.

Susan who has run a legal practice in Chislehurst for many years had first hand experience of the issues and undertook a detailed analysis of the land in question, including:

  • Identifying all the strips and patches of common land (in excess of forty) that existed across the village, referencing maps from the Land Registry and cross checking with local council maps.
  • Recording what rights had already been legally granted and also the development of access which did not have a legal easement.

Successful community action

With a clear and fully documented account and survey of the common land and with combined painstaking efforts of the Conservators, The Chislehurst Society and Susan, the community negotiated and has been able to take control over the land at the very heart of the village.

Having completed the legal aspects of the acquisition, Susan will now work with The Chislehurst Society, to advise on how best to regularise some developments that have taken place in the past, where rights were not always properly granted at the time and to put procedures in place to deal with any new developments planned in the future.

If you have any unusual property issues need help with please contact the team at Wellers 020 8464 4242

Award winning solicitors in Bromley, London and Surrey advising businesses, families and charitable organisations in London and the South East.

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