The Water Tower

The Water Tower
The Water Tower at Dusk

Monday, October 25, 2010

Proof That Land Was Advertised For Sale

On an earlier blog I recorded why we managed to become owners of a woodland. Even although no-one else was particularly interested in owning the ground it does seem to be a concern that it was not advertised for sale.

It was year 2000 and I had representation from a few people at the time therefore some people knew about the potential sale. Here are 2 articles that appeared in the local newspaper at the time.



This year the Eskbank Amenity Society sent an 8 page letter to Midlothian Council regarding the sale of the land and other concerns. Here is the councils' response to the specific Q's on the land sale.




There were eight specific questions on the first page of your letter, to which I can
offer the following responses:

1. "Why was the disposal of this specific public asset, decided by MC Estates
Department"?

The sale of the land was approved by the Council's Policy and Resources
Committee on 2 May 2000.

2. "What legislation and localgovemment policies govemed MC sale of public
assets at that time? (1999-2000)"

The Local Government Scotland Acts.

3. "How did Midtothian residents benefit from this specific disposal?"

The Midlothian residents benefitted indirectly by the capital receipt and
removal of the maintenance liability. Not all Council property is sold on the
open market. Frequently individuals or businesses approach the Council to
purchase land which adjoins their own property. In such cases where there is
no obvious other interested party, and following advice from the Council's
Estates officers, the Council, if appropriate, will proceed to dispose of the site.
Such an approach obviates the need for abortive marketing costs to be
incurred.

4. "What process of competitive tendering/open competition was in place for the
Please note response at 3 above.

5. "Was the sale af the land publicly advertised?"
Please note response at 3 above. 
6. "lf there was no open process of publicly advertising the sale and achieving
competitive bids for the land, why not?"

Please note response at 3 above.

7. "How was the purchase price determined?"

The valuation was based on comparative garden ground.

8. "Given this precedent, are all areas of the North Esk River Valley Woodlands
considered to be disposable MC assets?"
No
 
Well that answers everything I think.

Just for the record, the ground that we originally wanted to purchase was very much less than we eventually bought. Asking for a small parcel of land brought no response from the council in almost 2 years between 1998 and 2000. Taking a bigger area and taking over responsibility was the answer.
The area of ground that we took ownership of is 0.519 hectares. If you happen to read the MC planning files on our build project you would see a letter from a local person claiming that we own 5.53 acres. Now I don't think these 2 figures are equivalent and I have checked an internet conversion site.
Answer: 0.519 hec = 1.28247 acre

I can understand local concerns regarding the areas along the whole of the North River Esk - I wouldn't want to see mass development. But a little perspective is perhaps required. This is a small build on an area that was garden ground adjoining a woodland. It is bordered by a very ugly metal fence which we have now covered with wood. There is a precipitous corner that was dangerous to the public and where water run off continues to be an issue. I have every intention of making the landscape even more beautiful. Trees have been removed - with approval - and opening up the woodland has been a benefit. Lots more trees and understorey plants have been planted than have been removed. Protection has been put on new planting to prevent deer damage. Ivy has been removed selectively and retained as well. The plan is to improve the overall appearance in the long run. It does take time. I have not planted non native species on the woodland bank and I try to use sympathetic species to blend from garden to woodland. I love bamboo - its not native I know - its not on the bank and where it is planted it will not become invasive. I am happy to take advice and remove plants if someone can spell out the risk in clear and meaningful terms.

If you didn't see it - the Scotland on Sunday ran an article on the house build yesterday. Pictures were not great due to the time of year and horrible weather on the day but the article is a good one. I'll try and post a copy next time.





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