from the minutes of the Dawlish Town council meeting held 7.11.18
LAND AT SPRINGFIELD GARDENS Members considered a report detailing what action, if any, should be taken in respect of land at Springfield Gardens, Dawlish. The Clerk reminded Members that this matter had gone before the Civic Amenities Committee previously where it had been previously thought that the grass verge area at Springfield Gardens had belonged to the Town Council and therefore it had conducted annual maintenance works to the area. Upon entering the role of Clerk, information was sought to confirm the ownership of the land. The title deed and plan obtained from the Land Registry made no reference to the Town Council; ownership therefore fell to the original developers of the land. It was further discovered that he developer’s company had been dissolved in 2013 and therefore its assets passed to the Crown; in respect of the land, it had become Bona Vacantia. The Crown has no compulsion to do anything with the land.
The Council’s previous and current legal advisors confirmed the land was not in the Town Councils ownership and that no precedent had been set by undertaking works there previously. Prior to the Council meeting the Clerk had spoken to a legal advisor within the Bona Vacantia department who advised that, once the land was brought to their attention, they would consider it to be of no benefit to them and would look to disclaim the land immediately. Asked whether the Council could undertake works to the land prior to this, the legal advisor would not offer an opinion which raised concerns to the Clerk. If it was disclaimed, it would mean the land would be subject to escheat. This would mean the land would fall to the Crown Estate which was managed by Burges Salmon LLP acting on behalf of them. Maintenance would fall to the Crown Estate until such time as they had disposed of the land, usually by way of individuals or groups of people purchasing the land. Councillor Prowse proposed that the Clerk be instructed to refer the land to the Bona Vacantia to begin the process of disclaiming the land to enable interested persons or parties to purchase the land if they so wished. Councillor Goodman-Bradbury referred to her previously circulated report and expressed concern as to the current state of the verge and its encroachment onto neighbouring properties. Councillor Lowther seconded Councillor Prowse’s proposal. He stated that previously he had supported the works to the verge but now that evidence was enough to demonstrate otherwise, he believed the land should be referred to the Treasury Solicitor.
In response to a suggestion, the Clerk advised that any intimation of removing the trees from the site would likely be met by Teignbridge District Council imposing Tree Preservation Orders on the individual trees, which would then require not only maintenance, but maintenance managed by the District Council, albeit that they would look sympathetically on applications to prune or crown the trees. Resolved that the Town Clerk begin the process of referring the land at Springfield Gardens to the Treasury Solicitors department.