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The sale of our land is done through contract law. This contract is included in the document pack that we provide. Until the 1980s land of this size in England, Wales and Scotland did not need to be registered with the Land Registry if you wanted to sell it. From the 1980s onwards only Scotland and Northern Ireland have been able to sell land without registering the sale.
This came about because in the 1980’s a group called “Friends of the Earth” exploited the fact that land could be sold without registration in the Land Registry to buy a field in England that the government planned to build a motorway on and sold it in 3,500 individual square foot plots. This totally halted the government’s plan to build the motorway because ownership of the route was now split between 3,500 people and it would not be practical or financially viable to organise compulsory purchase of land from that many people.
The motorway had to be built elsewhere and the government were pretty irritated!
The land that was sold in square foot plots was called Alice’s Meadow
Quote from Wikipedia:
This tactic was possible only because under the HM Land Registry regulations then in effect for England and Wales, transactions involving small plots of land were exempt from registration. The regulations have since been revised; any plot, regardless of size, must now be registered on transfer (in England and Wales). The Land Registry charges that would be payable under the current regulations would make a similar sale of micro-plots prohibitively expensive today. Interestingly, under the regulations for the Land Registries of Scotland and Northern Ireland small “souvenir plots” are still specifically excluded from registration.
So England and Wales have had the loophole closed. However in Scotland it is still possible to sell land without registering it with the Land Registry. Traditionally land has always been worth a lot of money, tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. Of course if you spent that much money you would want the purchase registered because if you lost your contract or had it stolen it could cause a huge amount of trouble and you’d loose a LOT of money. However, the reason that the Scottish Land Registry will not register the smaller plots of land is that a) it isn’t necessary as they are worth so little (you don’t need to register your kettle, your shoes or your hairbrush because they aren’t worth much and it would be ridiculous and time consuming if every kettle had to have it’s ownership formally registered in a special Kettle Registry) and b) The Scottish land Registry would be totally swamped with the registration of all of these small plots.
Therefore the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979, in a movement designed to save themselves and sellers of plots in Scotland a lot of time, prohibits registration of land that is
“a souvenir plot, that is a piece of land which, being of inconsiderable size or no practical utility, is unlikely to be wanted in isolation except for the sake of mere ownership or for sentimental reasons or commemorative purposes”
The two events of ownership and registration do not have to go hand in hand. You can own land (in Scotland not England) without it being registered. In fact you can own many things without them being in a register. Your sofa, your dog, your television.
In England they wanted to stop small plots being sold like this. It was very simple, they changed the law and now you HAVE to register land to own it. Scotland has not made this change. If they wanted to, they could, but they obviously don’t see the need to have their time taken up sorting out all of these small registrations!
If the Scottish government had any objections to sales such as ours it would be a simple matter to alter the law and bring it in line with the law in England and Wales.