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obtaining access to building plot via shared driveway

(22 Posts)
hopingtosell Mon 12-Aug-13 21:07:35

Our next door neighbours live on a corner plot. Some years ago they sold off their long garden as building plots & 2 sets of semi-detatched houses were built, 1 on either side of a central driveway/cul-de-sac, with spaces for parking infront of each house. The driveway is accessed from the road around the corner from us.

Our garden runs the full length adjacent to these 4 houses & we own the boundary between us. We are considering selling off the bottom part of our garden as a building plot, which could potentially be accessed via this shared driveway/cul-de-sac, but in order to do so, we would need to gain right of way. We have sufficient space on our land for parking spaces so the access would simply be vehicular, plus connection to mains services. This will obviously have the adverse impact to the 4 existing homes of a slight increase in traffic, however it would presumably come with the benefit of a reduction in the costs of maintaining the shared driveway (split between 5 properties instead of 4).

We have no idea how to even begin the process of selling the land. Presumably we will need to gain right of way first of all, so do we speak to the neighbours first to get initial verbal agreement? if we do should we take outline plans? In which case do we approach an architect first of all? Or do we go straight to a solicitor?

Presumably we may end up having to cross their palms with silver in order to gain access, what is a fair amount to expect to pay? And would this need to be paid upfront i.e. before we gained planning/sold the land or would it be paid when the sale was complete?

If anyone could offer any advice as a starting point I'd very much appreciate it. Many thanks

racmun Mon 12-Aug-13 21:21:01

I'm a property lawyer specialising in residential development so exactly what I deal with.

Ultimately to make the plots saleable you will need to have a formal right of way granted to the plots for that use. Ultimately whoever owns the access road has the random strip and can 'hold you to ransom'. It is impossible to say what a fair price is as it will depend on value of the plots c against other things.

There is no point spending out on plans for plots that you can't access. As an an initial starting point you should speak to the owner if the access way and get an agreement in principle with them. You can do a search at the land registry to find out who owns the access way.

If you can agree this in principle then I would advise that you then instruct a solicitor to prepare an option calling for a deed of grant. This gives you the right for a set period of time to call the owners of the access way to enter into the right of way. You don't want to spend money on planning only to find that they've changed their mind or want more money!! You can also place a restriction on the title of the access way to stop it being sold, and the new owners not knowing what you are talking about. Bear in mind you may need to get mortgage co's consent if there is any borrowing registered against the title.

Once you've got the access then you can look at plans for the plots.

Do Not and I stress do not use a standard resi conveyancer with no experience of development sites. It's non standard stuff and whilst a specialist may be slightly more it is money well spent to avoid cock ups down the line.....

Daisybell1 Mon 12-Aug-13 21:30:19

Regarding selling your land, you can ask an agent to value it and market it for you. However you will get more for it if you have a right of way in place.

You will need the owner's permission for this as they need to grant you the right of way over the land. I would do a land registry search first to check who actually owns the access strip (it may not be the property owners - it may have been retained by the developer). I might see a solicitor next, to check that what you wanted to do was legally possible.

And before commissioning an architect I'd talk to your local planning team about whether you could get planning permission too.

You will certainly need to pay for access - if this is the only access to the property then they have a 'ransom strip' ie they hold the key to unlock the entire development. As they are in such a strong position, values of 15% of the completed development value all the way through to 60% can be asked for (ouch!).

If you're getting your own land valued then you could ask the agent/valuer to consider the value of the access at the same time.

Daisybell1 Mon 12-Aug-13 21:31:06

x posts with racmum!

Islagiatt Mon 12-Aug-13 22:18:16

Hi hoping, sorry to hijack your thread but racman and Daisybell are clearly both very clever and knowledgeable about your query I hope I can jump on your coattails and they could possibly help me with a similar (but different problem)

We live in rural property with one neighbour about 100 metres further up a lane and who has access to their property via our lane. Our house was the farmhouse for the area and so owned lots and lots of acres, but over time (sob) all the land has been sold. The lane goes between house and garden but very little traffic so kids use as part of garden.

Our neighbours knocked down the existing house and have been building a house for 4+ years, and brought in a large caravan to live in whilst they built. To get it in they had to use not only the lane but a bit of scrubland behind the house. As part of their building works their delivery lorries were also using this scrubland to take a swing at the lane to get to their property (lane does an 'S" shape going past our house onto theirs).

In December 2010 we completed extension (they didn't object) on the scrubland. In addition to the building works we placed large rocks along the path of the lane to prevent these lorries going over our groundworks and pipes, and to ensure safety for kids, however we also created a wider parking area opposite so access was never restricted (other than by the natural shape of the S bend) and in fact there is more space now than ever.

Neighbour complained about rocks at time, but we explained it was our land and we were not interfering with lane, but did acknowledge it was more difficult for delivery lorries, but he did buy a rural property some 200 metres down a farm track. He has had to have building deliveries in smaller lorries but now wants a 20+ tonne delivery of concrete which he now can't do as we have 'moved the lane'!!

Anyway (sorry for saga) the rocks have now been there for nearly 3 years and we have only had steps built up into new extension and neighbour has accused us of building into the lane. We haven't, the steps are behind the rocks and they haven't moved. We said we were quite happy for him to move the rocks (at his expense - but could probably be moved by crowbar by hand) drive over our land and put them back and to cut back the hedge along the lane to widen it to allow his caravan to get out. But we have received a letter saying we are trying to charge him for access to his property hmm and he is seeking legal advice over the whole access issue.

I do not need anymore stress in my life (who does) but categorically believe there is far more room in the lane, and enough space to get his caravan out, but agree that the huge delivery trucks can no longer gain access as we have stopped them driving on our land. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

racmun Mon 12-Aug-13 22:58:40

Hi islagiatt

It's quite hard to get a real understanding without a seeing a plan it the site, but it sounds as though he was using your scrubland for access, which you let him do even though it wasn't part of the access track and he's now moaning because he wants to carry on doing so?

Hopefully the title for your and/or his property will contain a plan showing the access track over which he was granted a right of way. This should show the original track layout and not the scrubland. Assuming you never signed anyor further deeds he has no right to try and enlarge his easement.

Even though he used it whilst building works were going on it would have had to have been used for 21 years for him to have achieved any additional formal rights.

Look at the title of your house, if you haven't got it you can order it online from the Land Registry (assuming its registered) and in particular the section titled charges register.
It should have a plan or refer to a plan which you can also get from the LR which will show the track over which he has rights. Assuming you are correct, provide your neighbour with a copy showing him exactly where his right of access lies.

His title will probably have details contained in the benefits register.

Hope this helps, and if it gets messy see a solicitor....

hopingtosell Mon 12-Aug-13 23:04:29

racmun & daisy thankyou both for the advice its very much appreciated & very useful.

The fact they can hold us to ransom is a little scary! To be honest if they wanted a silly sum of money I doubt we'd go ahead. We want to sell to fund an extension to our own house, so if we had to hand a large proportion of that over it wouldn't be so worthwhile.

Anyhow I've hit the first stumbling block - I've had a look at the land registry search but its not recognising the address of the cul-de-sac (which included postcode). It gave me an option to select the location on an OS map however the driveway/houses are not shown. I looked at the postal forms but there didn't seem to be any suitable tick boxes since I'm searching for the owner of the strip of land between 4 houses & not for a specific property. Any advice on what to do now? confused

hopingtosell Mon 12-Aug-13 23:06:46

oh & meant to add islagiatt - hope you manage to get your situation sorted without it escalating into a full scale dispute.

hopingtosell Mon 12-Aug-13 23:13:21

Oh & sorry I've one more question for you knowledgeable folks - would you suggest getting the land valued now (and ask about the value of the access), before we do anything else?

racmun Mon 12-Aug-13 23:14:03


You need to do an index map search. The form is called SIM1 (from memory) and again you can get it online. You'll need a plan and colour in the access way and fill the form to correspond (pretty self explanatory) and send into the Land Registry with a cheque. I think it's about £5 but check. They should then give you the title number.

As for shellung out upfront, that where the option comes in. It gives you right to call for the easement if you want it but you don 't pay upfront. In situations like this the option would usually be assigned to the developer who bus thebits and you fall out the picture.

As I said its not run of the mill stuff and you need to get an specialist instructed if it goes that far.

hopingtosell Mon 12-Aug-13 23:24:17

Thanks again racmun you have been really helpful.

I will look at the form tomorrow when I'm less bleary-eyed! Can I just clarify re the option - when you say you usually assign it to the developer, does this mean they would pay once the option is exercised, rather than us paying? Do you know what the approximate cost of obtaining such an option is?

I can see why we will need someone with specialist knowledge for this. wink

racmun Tue 13-Aug-13 00:19:47

Yes the developer would exercise and pay for the grant of the easement, so it's all built Into the price of the plots iyswim.

Realistically - probably a couple of thousand £ for the option as you'll prob end up having to pay the landowner's legal fees too

Daisybell1 Tue 13-Aug-13 08:05:11

Racmum is spot on with everything (and I've learnt a lot, just a lowly surveyor you see!) smile I would be tempted to get the land valued now as you need to know if the figures stack up before you start on this.

As Racmum says to use a specialist socliitor, I'd also recommend you use a chartered surveyor and a registered valuer for this. It will cost, opposed to getting an estate agent out to look at the plot, but I think it would be helpful for you to know the value of the completed property, the value of the access, and also I think you might need a residual valuation (which will work out how much the bare land is worth so you can check whether a developer is offering you a fair price - if you decide the sell the whole plot to a developer).

My first call would still be to the planning office though, otherwise there's no point embarking on any of this if you're not going to get planning permission.

Islagiatt Tue 13-Aug-13 17:32:33

Thank you so much for responding racmun (my first impression of clever and knowledgable was spot on!). You have given me some comfort that we haven't done anything wrong and if wants to see his advocate I would hope they would be honest with him and tell him to stop being such an argumentative unpleasant arse try to reason with him.

God bless ya! and good luck with your plans Hoping - hijack over.

TheWookiesWife Tue 13-Aug-13 19:41:21

hi - just a quick question... for the OP... is it possible to gain access to this plot via your own driveway - or could you give any prospective 'ransom holder' the impression that this is possible - ie "we are thinking of re developing our property adding a plot that would have access though our drive - but wanted to offer you the chance to reduce your overheads by giving you the chance to let them share your driveway " or is this just not playing cricket ?!?

hopingtosell Tue 13-Aug-13 23:48:20

Thankyou again racmun & daisy. I think I will take your advice re getting the land valued as a starting point alongside identifying the owner of the adjacent land. The architect doing our extension plans has also said he'd have a talk with the local planning office to find out their views.

whistle - sadly no, there is no access via our driveway, its not wide enough for that so we would be left with no parking of our own. So its access over the neighbouring land or not at all. However I like your suggestion to put a positive spin on the fact the shared costs (assuming shared ownership) will be reduced & this is definitely something we would put to the other parties involved.

Thanks again everyone. I'll try & update at a later stage with the outcome.x

neepsandtatties Wed 14-Aug-13 08:09:13

Realistically the 'reduced shared costs' will have no impact at all on the decision on whether, or how much to charge, to grant access. It's a ransom strip and if the neighbours are at all savvy, they will charge you accordingly. My DH is negotiating on a ransom strip at the moment (two new houses needing access over a shared driveway) and negotiations are currently at £50,000 and the developer DH is working for has budgeted £75,000 for it...

TheWookiesWife Wed 14-Aug-13 20:15:00

But surely it's only a ransom strip if there's no other alternative - if you had "plans " to rebuilt the original home that will allow access through that way as an alternative - then the plot is no longer a non starter without their help - but still offers a benefit to them if they agree to add the new plot to the upkeep of their shared driveway by reducing their overheads by 20%

hopingtosell Wed 14-Aug-13 22:19:47

wookies thats the whole point though - there is no other alternative. Trust me, if there was we would certainly not be looking to do this.

The plot simply isnt wide enough, its a 1910 victorian/edwardian semi cottage with a 1.5 car width drive to the side, which is where we park. There is no on street parking either, so we must have parking spaces on the plot.

neeps - wowsers. Surely they can only command a price relative to the value of the plot though?

TheWookiesWife Thu 15-Aug-13 09:07:49

I understand that there's no other way - what I was suggesting is that if you give the impression that there is another way - it makes their help in the matter less of a be all or end all in their minds - but didn't realise you were a semi - that changes things ! as I was thinking you could suggest you were re developing your existing home too - to accommodate a drive though to both plots !
shame ! good luck with it all ! :-)

omama Thu 06-Mar-14 22:35:47

Hiya. Just wanted to update & hopefully pick the brains of the very knowledgeable racmun & daisybell.

We've sat on this for a while, and are now finally ready to get the ball rolling.

The land registry search shows that the strip of land is owned by a third party (presumably the original landowner) & is not under joint ownership of the 4 neighbouring properties. We think this person may still live in the village.

On the one hand this is positive, since we will only need to gain agreement from this one person, and not our 4 neighbours. Also, since the owner doesn't live at the site they may be less concerned by any adverse impact on the immediate neighbours, since it won't affect them directly.

However, we're feeling very unsure of the best way to approach them since they are not known to us personally & we don't know how much or how little we should say. Do we go round & introduce ourselves & explain what we want to do & ask if they agree in principle? Or should we just tell them to expect to hear from our solicitor without asking for their agreement? What do we say if they try & steer the discussion towards money?


Treena1972 Tue 15-Aug-17 07:18:15


Really interesting re this issue. Our neighbour wants to build another house in their back garden, but the access would be via our shared drive ( recorded in deeds ), can we say no as the new building would also then have rights of access via the shared drive. If we say no, can our neighbour grant access by themselves?


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