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AIBU to take over a piece of land I don't own to expand my vegetable garden?

(29 Posts)
azazello Mon 08-Aug-11 18:49:11

I live in a small close with 6 houses. There is a reasonably sized (approx 12m square) piece of land opposite my house and one of my neighbours. This land is owned by the people who lived in my house 25 years ago in the hopes of getting planning permission for development on it.

Over the last 25 years they have made 3 applications for planning permission and all have been turned down flat. It is incredibly unlikely that they will get planning permission (listed buildings nearby which it would impact, protected trees in the site, private road with no access to the main road, no access to public sewer etc) but at the moment the land is just being wasted completely - it is basically a bed of nettles and brambles inhabited by rats.

I was chatting to my neighbour today about what a shame it was and we were discussing whether we should clear it to make the road look better and came up with the idea of clearing it and turning it into a vegetable garden for people in the road - not otherwise to change it in any way . WIBU to do this?

activate Mon 08-Aug-11 18:51:00

well yes

you can't commandeer land you don't own just because you live near it

write to them and ask them whether you can do this while they are applying for their planning permission

belledechocchipcookie Mon 08-Aug-11 18:51:56

You will be unreasonable, you wouldn't dig up your next door neighbours garden because it's overgrown would you? Can't you put some cash together and buy the plot?

azazello Mon 08-Aug-11 18:52:24

They're not applying for planning permission at the moment. There is nothing with the Council and it isn't allocated for development. I also don't know their address - all the applications have been run by planning consultants but different ones each time.

Mitmoo Mon 08-Aug-11 18:52:32

I'm not a fan of people trying to claim usage of land that doesn't belong to them having had neighbours try to claim usage of my own garden and trying to take me to court. They lost.

It sounds like a nice idea but be prepared to open a whole can of worms.

Can you contact the current owners and see if they would be willing to sell?

GollyHolightly Mon 08-Aug-11 18:53:23

I'm all for a bit of guerrilla gardening! there's lots of it goes on around here. I don't think you're being unreasonable, but you'll have to be prepared to lose all your veg if the owner decides they don't like it at any time chosen by them.

Could you not contact the land owner and ask them? It would be no skin off their nose, surely, for you to use the land for a good purpose.

azazello Mon 08-Aug-11 18:53:34

The owners want development value for the plot so minimum in their eyes of £150k. It is worth more like 10k as the development just won't happen.

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Mon 08-Aug-11 18:54:03

Why don't you talk to the owners and ask them for permission to use it?

If you just use it, can't they do you for trespass?

Mitmoo Mon 08-Aug-11 18:54:43

If you go to your nearest land registry they will be able to tell you who owns it, and give you a latest address. I had to do this to track down a landlord over another boundary dispute on behalf of someone else. It cost around £7 about 10 years ago?

azazello Mon 08-Aug-11 18:54:48

Sorry, should have made clear in my last post - the last contact anyone had from them was about 5 years ago. We don't even know if they're still alive. At that point they made it clear they wouldn't sell for less than "development value".

SoupDragon Mon 08-Aug-11 18:55:14

If you check the land registry it may tell you their address. Or it may just give yours if they were there when they bought it.

LetThereBeRock Mon 08-Aug-11 18:55:38

You want to do this without the owner's permission? YABVU.

belledechocchipcookie Mon 08-Aug-11 18:56:20

You could contact the council, say how neglected the plot is, rats etc. They can place a compulsory purchase order onto it if they think it's necessary. There's always squatting. wink If you can prove (I think) 12 years of squatting then this changes things.

Mitmoo Mon 08-Aug-11 18:56:27

If you think they'll overprice it, ask them if you can rent it on a month to month basis so if they find they can develop they can kick you off, in the meantime you'll look after the land growing veg. If it is handled properly open and up front it could be a win win.

SybilBeddows Mon 08-Aug-11 18:56:40

do it, you're not damaging it at all.
of course you would run the risk of losing all your hard work at any moment but equally you could have it for years.

smoggii Mon 08-Aug-11 18:56:56

Of course the nicest thing you could do is contact them, ask them if you can use it to grow veg while they await the outcome of their planning apps. Offer to give them a share of the veg. It's a win win situations as it prevents anyone else doing anything to their land and affords them a bit of protection.

If you don't do that and just commandeer the land, if they object you could lose your veg and your hard work.

No shed though or you might find yourself falling foul of the planning department

azazello Mon 08-Aug-11 18:56:56

I wouldn't particularly mind losing all the veg if they ever managed to do something with the plot. I obviously wouldn't change anything else.

smoggii Mon 08-Aug-11 18:58:12

You could contact them through their solicitors, details will be on their planning app available from the Council.

msbuggywinkle Mon 08-Aug-11 18:59:09

I'd do it. You can use the land, they are doing nothing with it, makes no sense to leave it.

Birdsgottafly Mon 08-Aug-11 18:59:46

This is going to cause war. It is a nice idea that all of the neighbours will agree on how this 'communal' piece of land should be used, but they won't.
It is a shame that you have discussed it, otherwise you could have lied and said that you had permission, not to keep, but to use.

I think that it shouldn't be allowed to buy land and leave it a mess. It is only recently that the council has banned property owners from doing the same with property, and it has tidied up many areas.

alarkaspree Mon 08-Aug-11 19:00:58

I don't think that would be particularly unreasonable actually. It definitely wouldn't be unreasonable to tidy it up, and from there it's only a small step to planting a few attractive and useful plants...

It would be better to get their permission though. I think the suggestion of offering to pay a small monthly rent for it is a great one.

Birdsgottafly Mon 08-Aug-11 19:03:52

If you are using it for so many years, you can claim it. So you probably won't get permission, without paying for the legal documents to say that you will not be trying to put a claim in, later on.

azazello Mon 08-Aug-11 19:06:15

Everyone in the close knows that this particular individual owns it (or used to own it anyway) and agrees it is an eyesore and somebody should do something.

There hasn't been a planning application on it for a few years. I think the last one was about 5 years ago as that was the last time the owners bothered to come over and inspect it. Not that they could get in because of the brambles - think Sleeping Beauty's castle.

I agree that it would be fantastic if the Council would step in but I doubt very much they'd be willing to spend any money and as it is on a private right of way and a cul-de sac it isn't exactly high priority for them

culturemulcher Mon 08-Aug-11 19:06:24

I think you should go for it. You've got nothing to lose if someone comes along and asks you to put it all back the way it was, save for what you've spent on compost, seeds, etc. You'll be tidying up the area and making the general environment better for everyone.

If you're happy to risk the loss of your hard work, everyone around will benefit from your veg garden.

Waste / Scrub land makes areas look unloved and unlovely.

thisisyesterday Mon 08-Aug-11 19:07:35

i think it's a good idea.
but i wouldn't invite al the neighbours in on it tbh because you'll just have too many people with differing opinions and it could all go sour

i would do the minimum you can to keep it nice. don't invest too much in case the owners have a massive problem with it or do end up selling it.

but nothing wrong with brightening the place up and getting some use out of it

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