The letter from John Boyle regarding the sale of the downland farms [Moral and legal difficulties, January 13] gives interesting information about the 1926 Corporation Act. However, as the land to be sold is tenanted, rather than ‘used for public recreation’, I doubt its disposal technically needs to be advertised under the 1972 Act.
There are sound reasons for opposing the sell-off; so that criticism might be a distraction.
I share reservations about the ordinary restrictive covenants; but as the council is a local authority, it could demand new statutory covenants as part of the arrangements for transfer of the freehold.
For instance, Section 33 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, enables positive covenants, binding future owners by the council as a local authority (rather than as a landowner). Alternatively, a Planning Obligation (Section 106 Agreement), would be legally possible without a related planning application.
I made a Freedom of Information request to the council about covenants, but I haven’t yet been told whether they are seeking any such statutory covenants from the purchasers. If not, the council’s claims that covenants would help prevent change would be undermined. Whatever covenants will apply, the council still needs to be committed to enforcing against any breaches itself, and that is also unclear.
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