My local MP at the time Mr David Burrowes knew little about the Right to Build legislation but said he would try to find out how it could be effective. He believed the local authority would be unlikely to want to help and would want to sell Amy Council land at the highest price for maximum profit. However he gave me the contact details of Enfield’s Head of Development Management – their chief planning officer – so that I could make some headway into the Council.
Meanwhile we started to make our own detective searches into local land in the area. Google maps was a great tool. It was interesting to look at maps with a different eye and little pockets started appearing that just might be possible. We checked these against the Land Registry. One plot that was of interest turned out to be made of two triangles one part private owned and the other Council owned. We also googled ‘ land owned by Enfield Council’ and in a tiny entry amongst 2,300 lines of playgrounds, schools and car parks were a couple of corner plots, listed as ‘vacant land’ – land adjacent to two houses. We noted them down – it was time now to talk to the Council.
Since 2015 the government obliged local authorities to publish this information and introduced a ‘Right to Contest’. http://www.gov.uk/guidance/right-to-contest. They estimate that 40% developable land is in public hands and if you think that any piece could be put to more productive use you can challenge them to sell.