This article is from Signpost 51, July 2016
Local land charges registers are kept by district, borough and unitary councils; in them are recorded all local restrictions or charges affecting individual properties. The CON 29 form was introduced over 50 years ago to aid prospective purchasers to discover information, already in existence or being proposed, about a property. This includes information on public registers held by county councils such as the Definitive Map and Statement. The form is divided into compulsory and optional sets of questions. It is completed by the relevant council which, if it is not a unitary authority, liaises with the county council to provide information from, for example, the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way, and financial charges which can include charges resulting from enforcement for rights of way matters.
The Local Land Charges Institute has worked with the Law Society to revise CON 29 to reflect recent changes in planning and other legislation, and other improvements that enable purchasers to be better informed. The revised form comes into force on 4 July 2016.
It is especially good news with respect to rights of way, as there are three improvements:
1. The public rights of way question is currently optional but will become compulsory. This means that the excuse of landowners “I didn’t know there was a right of way across my land when I bought it’, will no longer be valid.
2. Additional rights of way compulsory questions will be asked: “are there any pending applications to record a public right of way that abuts, or crosses the property?”, and “are there any legal orders to stop up, divert, alter or create a public right of way which abuts, or crosses the property not yet implemented or shown on a definitive map?; if so, please attach a plan showing the approximate route.”
3. An optional question covering landowner deposits in Registers under s31 Highways Act 1980 and s15A of the Commons Act 2006 has also been added.
Use of the new forms will ensure that all prospective purchasers of property are better informed, and the rights of the public to use public paths should be better protected.
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