How to find status of unadopted lane?

How to find status of unadopted lane?

9:42 AM, 24th August 2022, About a month ago 10

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There is a lane at the back of one property (well, at the back of the entire terrace). I don’t know how to find out whether it is private, just unadopted or what.

I want to find out as I think the Council might be trying to take it over in order to build on adjacent land – they did this nearby. In the past, various Council departments have denied any responsibility for repairs (even though they own land that adjoins the lane) does this mean they are saying they are NOT a frontager or are they just penny-pinching?

Recently, they’ve started cutting the grass at the side of it, which I’d like to stop in case it is an attempt at a takeover. How do I find out the status and ownership?

Many thanks



Judith Wordsworth

10:20 AM, 24th August 2022, About a month ago

Your conveyancer when you bought should have asked for confirmation of status when you purchased either via seller solicitors or via LocalAuthority searches.
Give them a call unless you have the documents.
Ask neighbours too.
If the Council are cutting the verges then they may own the lane.
Parish. Council may be able to help as could Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator. Is there a local historian as might be worth asking them too

Neil Patterson View Profile

10:43 AM, 24th August 2022, About a month ago

From HM Land Registry >>

One question we're often asked is "Who owns that piece of land?".

We have over 25 million registered titles (records of land and property ownership) in England or Wales, so we can usually give you the answer. If you have the address, postcode, or title number of a property, you can search HM Land Registry records for £3.

But what about the bits which aren't registered? How do you go about trying to find out who owns these?

Well, the simple answer is that it will often come down to your own detective work, where the land or property is located in the country, and sometimes luck!

So, if you've checked whether the land or property is registered with us and found it isn't registered, what can you do next?
Get information about unregistered land

It's probably best to start your detective work in the surrounding area and make enquiries. You could:

ask neighbours or adjoining landowners if they know who the owner(s) might be;
ask local residents if they have any ideas about who might own it, as they may have lived in the area for a number of years and have ‘local knowledge’;
ask in the local pub, post office or shop;
check adjoining registered properties for clues, they may refer to a deed or document which affected not only that registered title but also ‘other land’. The other land may have included the unregistered part and the deed/document will refer to the parties to the deed, which may give a clue as to the owner on a specific date;
search county or local authority records for clues – Yorkshire and Middlesex have their own deeds registries (to make a search you need to know the name of previous or current owners), while other counties have County Records Offices;
check with the local authority to see if any planning applications have been submitted over the years. By law, applicants currently have to sign either a Certificate A to say they are the owner or Certificate B where they say they have served notice on the owner who they have to name; and
check your local electoral register.

Online forums such as Money Saving Expert and Garden Law sometimes suggest ‘doing something’ to the property or the land, such as putting up a sign. Before doing this, I'd advise that you check with a solicitor whether your actions would break any laws.
About unregistered land

Over 85% of land and property in England and Wales is now registered with us. Much of the land owned by the Crown, the aristocracy, and the Church has not been registered, because it has never been sold, which is one of the main triggers for compulsory registration.

Some people think that unregistered land isn’t owned by anyone or refer to it as ‘no man’s land’. But this isn't right. In England and Wales, all land is owned by somebody, even if the legal owner can’t be identified. For example, if a person dies without a Will or blood relatives, their land or property can pass to the crown by law (referred to as Bona Vacantia).

HM Land Registry is aiming to achieve comprehensive registration by 2030. If you want to register your own property, there is currently a 25% discount for voluntary first registrations.

Kathy Evans

14:03 PM, 24th August 2022, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Judith Wordsworth at 24/08/2022 - 10:20
Conveyancer is long gone - owned property for about 50 years. Deeds are not clear - can't understand anything apart from a right of access for the Dean and Chapter dating from 1922

Kathy Evans

14:08 PM, 24th August 2022, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 24/08/2022 - 10:43
Done most of that. the Council actually said it is owned by no one - obviously untrue, but I am now the longest standing owner and I don't know. My late neighbours seemed to think the lane belonged to the houses, but I'm really hoping for someone who can decipher the legalese in the deeds. So, it looks like solicitor and land registry - any recommendations for solicitors who specialise in this type of work?

CMS View Profile

18:09 PM, 24th August 2022, About a month ago

Hi, if you let me have one of the properties full addresses i will check if it is registered for you and let you have the title number. Then you can contact the land registry direct easily.

Hope that helps, Charles

Kathy Evans

18:50 PM, 24th August 2022, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by CMS at 24/08/2022 - 18:09
Thanks. I have the title number of the property I own and the owner of the land on the other side of the lane since 1978 (the Council), but I'm not able to tell where the lane belongs. I also have the title number of the adjoining land - the plan for that definitely doesn't include the lane but the reg entry says:
"A Conveyance dated 4 February 1922 made between (1) The Right Reverend James Edward Cowell Bishop Weldon Dean And The Chapter of Durham (2) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners For England and (3) John Bowes and Partners Limited contains restrictive covenants and conditions but neither the original deed nor a certified copy or examined abstract thereof was produced on first registration.
2 A Conveyance dated 26 July 1924 made between the parties referred to above contains restrictive covenants but neither the original deed nor a certified copy or examined abstract thereof was produced on first registration."

I bet those dealt with the lane.

CMS View Profile

23:16 PM, 24th August 2022, About a month ago

Hi, so you have checked and the lane is unregistered? Is it used by anyone as a primary means of access to their property?

You do sometimes find these anomalies where the houses have been built for some time because the original developer purchases the land (together with the lane) probably pre-compulsory registration.

As the houses are sold off, and compulsory registration came in, the houses were registered, but the lane which has not been transferred remains unregistered but owned by the original developer.

The Local Authority won't want to take it on necessarily as they may see it as a liability.

I am not saying that is definately the case here but if you do some research you can have a pretty picture of who is likely to own it (if its unregistered) by reviewing all of the titles off of the lane.

Can i ask what the importance is?

Best, Charles

Kathy Evans

9:34 AM, 25th August 2022, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by CMS at 24/08/2022 - 23:16
As far as I know, the land was purchased by the John Bowes Co from the Church (Durham Dean and Chapter) to build houses for miners at their local colliery.
At some point, some of the houses and land were transferred to what was then the National Coal Board's local estates dept. You could tell which houses were private and which rented by the colour of a patch above front door. Road at front was unadopted, but, metalled, lanes at back were just gravel. Road at front provides primary access, but lane provides secondary access to rear of all houses and some people park there. It also provides access to adjoining land. This land used be used a) as playing field and b) as leased gardens for the houses for which they paid a ground rent c) prefabs from WW2, which were later demolished
The adjoining land (a, b and c) is now owned by Council - all one title - and they adopted the front road in order get access to build on the prefab site.
Each house on the street is now a separate title as they are now all privately owned. The property I own (title diagram does not include lane) used to belong to Northern Industrial Improvement Trust and Talawakelle Estate Holdings Limited is also mentioned (same directors)

But I can't decipher whether the remaining unadopted lane goes with the houses (each house?) or not. I do know that the Council has denied responsibility for any repairs. And NCB/British Coal, Northern Industrial Improvement Trust/Talawakelle Estate Holdings Limited no longer exist

It is important because a) residents don't want Council to get access to build on adjoining land b) there are protruding drain covers and potholes which need to be fixed and so need to know who is responsible. If private road, householders; if unadopted, most problems are next to Council land so would be them as frontager

CMS View Profile

18:00 PM, 26th August 2022, About a month ago

Hi, this is all conjecture obviously but, if the lane predates the sale to JBC you may find that it still belongs to the Diocese as I have acted on numerous matters where the Diocese own unregistered lanes/pathways which remain unsold because, as i mentioned earlier, there is no obligation on them to actually register their interest.

If you DM me your postcode i will check for you whether the lane is registered (unless you have already done this). If it is unregistered then you could look at reviewing titles which use the lane for any purpose starting with those which may have been developed/built most recent.

There may be rights contained within them that give you more infromation. I hope this all helps.



Freda Blogs

11:32 AM, 29th August 2022, About a month ago

If the Council has denied responsibility for repairs of the lane, they cannot/ should not be able to assert ownership - can’t have it both ways.

Likely the highways dept denied repairing liability and the estates dept would know more about the ownership, but that doesn’t alter the facts. The Council should have a terrier record of all land that they own and control. A few years ago there was a drive by Councils to register all bits and pieces of unregistered land - such as this, as some of them have value.
Try the local Records office perhaps for Council knowledge (often the archivists are long standing and knowledgeable, as are Rights of Way officers if there is one in this case).

Alternatively the Diocesan estates people, as Charles suggests, could be helpful.

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