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Lanes at rear of gardens in Forest Hill - Advice needed
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dartmouth


Posts: 71
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #1
25-04-2014 12:57 PM

Dear All,

I am hoping someone clever will know the answer to this query!

At the rear of my garden is a lane which runs parallel with our street and divides the gardens of the houses on my road (Como Road) with those of the houses on the road one street over (Cranston Road). Whist I know Google maps is not the most reliable source, the lane is clearly marked.

Long before I moved into the street, a fence was erected adjacent to my rear fence by the owner(s) of a property on Cranston Road with the intention of blocking a garden gate which previously allowed access to the lane from my garden. I don't know who put it up or their reason for doing so. However, older residents on my road seem to think the fences went up with little discussion, and practically appeared overnight. Whilst I don't really need or want a garden gate (which would just act as as an additional security concern in my eyes), I am a little bothered about how this land was apparently claimed in such a manner. More importantly, the make shift 'barrier' fence that was erected is now in such a poor state that it is falling to one side and pushing my fence down with it.

Does anyone know about these lanes in this area of Forest Hill? Are they public rights of way? Would any property have the right to deliberately block another property's access to one of these lanes should they want it? Can I rip this fence down and fix mine without having any legal action taken against me ? Wink I have contacted my solicitor to ask about clarifying this but if anyone has any hints, tips or experience of this kind, I would be really interested in hearing from you.
Thank you

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WBD


Posts: 17
Joined: May 2010
Post: #2
25-04-2014 02:32 PM

Hi

Do a Land Registry search - its probably what your Solicitor will do, but charge you for the privilege.

Not the easiest site to use, but they still offer a postal service where by you can mark up on a map the land in question. You need to fill out the correct form

http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/

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SeanThomas


Posts: 45
Joined: Apr 2012
Post: #3
25-04-2014 02:58 PM

It does seem a grey area. We have a similar thing down our road and from talking to neighbours, it seems the chunks of land were allocated to the homeowners by the council so that they didn't have to maintain the lanes anymore. Our lane used to be totally accessible when we first moved in but now some chunks are overgrown with brambles, parts have been flytipped on and one person has erected a big gate to stop anyone coming down.

Having been burgled via this back lane I'm sort of torn as to what sort of state we keep the lane in (eg. since it's been a messy state, there's been no break ins down our side of the road) but it's proven to be a contentious issue - disputes about which tree is on which plot of land, whose responsibility it is to maintain the area, who has the right to block access to people's garages etc.

Will watch this thread with interest...

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AMFM


Posts: 306
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #4
25-04-2014 04:44 PM

Hi Dartmouth - same thing happened in our road sometime back in the 90s (although in this instance we are the beneficiaries of a slightly larger garden as a result) and the old lane doesn't show on any maps so may be a different scenario.

As I understand it, the rationale for owners of houses on our street "acquiring" the land in the lane was because they had historically been the bin alleys but bins were no longer collected from the lanes so it was "dead" land if you like. Added to that was a spate of burglaries in the street where access was gained via the bin alleys.

A number of home owners in our street therefore extended the gardens so that garden backed onto garden of the parallel street rather than the gardens backing onto an alley.

Subject to when all this happened in your street, it is likely that whoever has fenced off the access has gained ownership by what is known as adverse possession (what is sometimes called Squatter's rights in lay terms). I wouldn't advise ripping down the fence as, even in its dilapidated state, your neighbour may have acquired legal title to the land and you'd be opening yourself up to the possibility of a criminal damage claim!

I also think it'sunlikely that it's a public right of way and if there ever was a right of way, it has probably been extinguished by now (again, subject to when the fence was erected)

Have you spoken to the owners? It might be worth having a chat with them to sort out the repairs to the fence (I am obviosuly working on the assumption that they are reasonable people but accept that's never a given!)

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SEN


Posts: 50
Joined: Oct 2010
Post: #5
27-04-2014 09:07 PM

We have a similar arrangement. My understaning is the lane is "owned" by one of our neighbours but we have right of access. However it is not a public right of way (or at least was not internded to be one) so others using it without permission would be trespassers.

My (hazy) awareness of land law is that the period of 12 years may be significant. If someone occupies land unchallenged for that amount of time it's pretty difficult to get it back off them. If people have access to a path for that time it becomes a right of way (hence those signs you see saying certain paths are not intended to be a right of way - guess it's meant to prottect the owner's right to block it/build on it). But this may be a gross oversimplification!

In short I think "land grabs" are quite common and most probably go unnoticed

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