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Railway land

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Upton

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I was in Bristol last week and travelled on the line to Severn Beach. I noticed at the side of the line further up the embankment near Redland station, that someone had taken over some of the land at the top and turned it into a vegetable patch/allotment. I presume that they lived in a house backing onto the railway line and had decided to cultivate a piece of overgrown land for their own use.
I just wondered how they could get away with this as I would assume that the land belongs to Network rail?
 
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The Planner

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It probably does but there are probably countless cases of adverse possession of NR land. Plenty of garden encroachment occurs all over the network.
 

6Gman

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And in the past I believe the railway was sometimes sympathetic to the cultivation of embankments - fewer H&S rules in those days! Some may also date back to "Dig for Victory" in WW II when every available plot was used.

Presumably once the concession was granted it was hard to revoke.

Until recently there was such a plot alongside the Manchester line out of Crewe but I don't know if it's still there.
 

Steveman

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I was in Bristol last week and travelled on the line to Severn Beach. I noticed at the side of the line further up the embankment near Redland station, that someone had taken over some of the land at the top and turned it into a vegetable patch/allotment. I presume that they lived in a house backing onto the railway line and had decided to cultivate a piece of overgrown land for their own use.
I just wondered how they could get away with this as I would assume that the land belongs to Network rail?

It isn't the crime of the century, best of luck to them I'd rather see some cabbages than a load of overgrown wasteland.
 

Arglwydd Golau

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As an aside on this topic, I have seen some excellent Apple and Plum trees on Network Rail property with all the fruit going to waste as they can't be accessed. Two places that spring to mind that I noticed last year were Willesden Junction and Shrewsbury. Good luck to the cultivator on the Severn Beach line.
 

edwin_m

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Doen't the encroacher get to claim ownership if nobody objects for a certain period? If so it is an obvious risk for bits of land that might have a future railway use such as four-tracking or loops. Perhaps NR should (maybe even does) send a letter saying thay are happy for this use to continue subject to certain safety rules but they reserve the right to re-claim the land if needed for railway purposes?
 

Trog

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The rules for adverse possession depend on if the land is registered or not. Longer delay for unregistered land, but for registered the original owner only has to object when you claim to have you seen off. I think in both cases you have to publicly act as if you are the owner of the land, and not be doing anything illegal. Which may give the railway a get out for operational land as trespass on the railway is more serious a matter than simple trespass. In that for normal trespass you can only be asked to leave or ejected if you won't go, but you can be fined for trespassing on the railway.
 

DarloRich

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It isn't the crime of the century, best of luck to them I'd rather see some cabbages than a load of overgrown wasteland.

i think you might be overlooking the legal position! I wonder how you would feel about your garden being take in similar circumstances ;)


Some useful information on adverse possession here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publi...egistered-was-acquired-before-13-october-2003

Land Registry:

You must show that:

the squatter has factual possession of the land
the squatter has the necessary intention to possess the land
the squatter’s possession is without the owner’s consent
all of the above have been true of the squatter and any predecessors through whom the squatter claims for at least 12 years prior to the date of the application
 

Poolie

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When I were a lad, my dad had an allotment right opposite Preston Road station. There was no fencing to the lines and I used to stand right at the edge of the plot and wave to the drivers of the GC expresses, and semi fasts. Great when I used to get a blast on the whistle from some of the drivers. Dad used to carry on digging. I was only about 5 or 6 years old, but that is how I developed my interest in railways. Great days :D
 

Steveman

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i think you might be overlooking the legal position! I wonder how you would feel about your garden being take in similar circumstances ;)
]

Oh dear a slight over-reaction there, a rubbish strewn overgrown railway verge is not my garden.
 

infobleep

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The point, however, remains. You would challenge someone occupying your land. Why should NR simply give their land up?
They shouldn't give up their land unless legally they have to. For it not to be legally the case they need to do certain things. Basically what matter most here is the legal view point.

However I don't know how land possession works in relation to the railways.

With aerial photography more readily y, you'd think it might be easier to check for changes but then they do cover a large area so not easy and some may be obscured by trees or other vegetation.
 

mr williams

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As an aside on this topic, I have seen some excellent Apple and Plum trees on Network Rail property with all the fruit going to waste as they can't be accessed. Two places that spring to mind that I noticed last year were Willesden Junction and Shrewsbury. Good luck to the cultivator on the Severn Beach line.

There are some excellent apple trees on the right hand side travelling towards Severn Beach immediately after the branch splits from the main line beyond Stapleton Road. Terrible waste - in the days before Sunday services to SB I often wondered if any enterprising locals would try and bring in the harvest on the trainless Sabbath!
 

Darandio

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I'd often wondered about this myself as there is a location between Darlington and Dinsdale where someone has extended their garden with a nice pathway, greenhouse, garden shed, the works!

It's not easy to correlate images as much of the satellite data isn't that recent. These two shots should show the differences though.
 

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70014IronDuke

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The rules for adverse possession depend on if the land is registered or not. Longer delay for unregistered land, but for registered the original owner only has to object when you claim to have you seen off. I think in both cases you have to publicly act as if you are the owner of the land, and not be doing anything illegal. Which may give the railway a get out for operational land as trespass on the railway is more serious a matter than simple trespass. In that for normal trespass you can only be asked to leave or ejected if you won't go, but you can be fined for trespassing on the railway.

Is that the legal term? I'm glad Edwin raised this question, as it came to my mind immediately I saw ThePlanner's comment.
 

Steveman

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The point, however, remains. You would challenge someone occupying your land. Why should NR simply give their land up?

They haven't given any land up, it's being used for a worthwhile purpose and if NR want it back they will simply flatten any cabbages and return it to overgrown rubbish and rat infested squalor which would please some people.

If I had left my garden in the state some NR land is in and somebody put it to good use then what's wrong with that, if I wanted it back I'd act accordingly.

If somebody built a house or some other structure on NR land that would be different, I wouldn't call growing a few vegetables an occupation.
 

edwin_m

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They haven't given any land up, it's being used for a worthwhile purpose and if NR want it back they will simply flatten any cabbages and return it to overgrown rubbish and rat infested squalor which would please some people.

If I had left my garden in the state some NR land is in and somebody put it to good use then what's wrong with that, if I wanted it back I'd act accordingly.

If somebody built a house or some other structure on NR land that would be different, I wouldn't call growing a few vegetables an occupation.

Just so long as somebody doesn't start expecting compensation from NR if the land they have appropriated is needed for some worthwhile railway project.
 

DarloRich

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They haven't given any land up, it's being used for a worthwhile purpose and if NR want it back they will simply flatten any cabbages and return it to overgrown rubbish and rat infested squalor which would please some people.

The land is being occupied by someone other than the owner. They are depriving the rightful owner of the use of that land, regardless of what that use might be. It also doesn't matter what use the "illegal" occupier puts the land to. It isn't there land to use.

If I had left my garden in the state some NR land is in and somebody put it to good use then what's wrong with that, if I wanted it back I'd act accordingly.

Assuming you were able to "get it back". I assume you read and understood the land registry document linked further up thread.

Having dealt with similar cases before it is likely NR (if Railtrack are anything to go by) will seek to remove the "illegal" use of the land and where possible offer it to the occupier for sale or rent. For the occupier that is is preferable as they obtain a better class of title.

However, should the NR land be unregistered and the occupation, meeting certain criteria, has been for more than the required number of years the title to the land passes to the squatter free of charge.

I ask again, would you be happy to loose some of your garden/land to your neighbour?

If somebody built a house or some other structure on NR land that would be different, I wouldn't call growing a few vegetables an occupation.

sadly, that is where you are wrong. It doesn't matter what use the land is put to. You seem unable to understand the principles involved. It doesn't matter what use the occupier has put the land to. Please do try to read the guide from the Land Registry and understand what you are talking about.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I'd often wondered about this myself as there is a location between Darlington and Dinsdale where someone has extended their garden with a nice pathway, greenhouse, garden shed, the works!

It's not easy to correlate images as much of the satellite data isn't that recent. These two shots should show the differences though.

looks like some encroachment! it happens all the time to all kinds of land owner, especially where unregistered boundaries are unclear. If it has no impact on the operational railway NR will sell or lease the land to the occupier or remove them if they wont pay.
 

infobleep

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Do Network Rail have a department debited to illegal encroachment of their land?
 

furnessvale

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they have a property and legal departments but i don't know if anyone is solely focused on encroachment.

It used to be one of the things the local ganger would report up the chain of command but with modern mechanised maintenance does anyone feel "ownership" in the same way?

There are several encroachments between Hazel Grove and Davenport where people have extended their gardens onto railway land. Without them there would have been room for a loop or additional slow line but now?
 

DarloRich

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It used to be one of the things the local ganger would report up the chain of command but with modern mechanised maintenance does anyone feel "ownership" in the same way?

that is how it still tends to happen I understand. It certainly was on some of the cases I dealt with.

There are several encroachments between Hazel Grove and Davenport where people have extended their gardens onto railway land. Without them there would have been room for a loop or additional slow line but now?

It depends on how long it has been in situ or whether the land has been sold or leased to the occupiers. NR will move them off operational land ASAP if possible.
 

Greenback

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It isn't the crime of the century, best of luck to them I'd rather see some cabbages than a load of overgrown wasteland.

That is, I understand, the principle behind the actual legislation. If someone is putting in a bit of effort to do something with a piece of land, and the rightful owner isn't doing anything to contest that, after a certain period the person lokking after the land can acquire ownership.

Doen't the encroacher get to claim ownership if nobody objects for a certain period? If so it is an obvious risk for bits of land that might have a future railway use such as four-tracking or loops. Perhaps NR should (maybe even does) send a letter saying thay are happy for this use to continue subject to certain safety rules but they reserve the right to re-claim the land if needed for railway purposes?

The rules for adverse possession depend on if the land is registered or not. Longer delay for unregistered land, but for registered the original owner only has to object when you claim to have you seen off. I think in both cases you have to publicly act as if you are the owner of the land, and not be doing anything illegal.

That's correct. Owners have more protection if the land is registered, intentionally so as an incentive to register more land.

The point, however, remains. You would challenge someone occupying your land. Why should NR simply give their land up?

I can think of a couple! The piece of land in question might be insignificant. A pragmatic view might be that it isn't worth the bother or expense of evicting someone or fighting their application for ownership if the land has no real value for the owner.

NR might not even be aware of what happened. If the land is unregistered, the first they may know is if the receive notification of an application for first registration of that land. By which time they might not have a solid legal case for an objection to it.

They haven't given any land up, it's being used for a worthwhile purpose and if NR want it back they will simply flatten any cabbages and return it to overgrown rubbish and rat infested squalor which would please some people.

If I had left my garden in the state some NR land is in and somebody put it to good use then what's wrong with that, if I wanted it back I'd act accordingly.

If somebody built a house or some other structure on NR land that would be different, I wouldn't call growing a few vegetables an occupation.

You may not see it as occupation but in a legal sense it may well be. Nevertheless, it's down to NR as the owner of the land (assuming that they are) to decide if they want to protect the land or not. I agree with you that a lot of land adjacent to railway lines looks abandoned and uncared for, but that doesn't mean a lot in law.

The land is being occupied by someone other than the owner. They are depriving the rightful owner of the use of that land, regardless of what that use might be. It also doesn't matter what use the "illegal" occupier puts the land to. It isn't there land to use.

You are correct. When someone is occupying land that isn't theirs, no matter what the land is, was or will be used for, the onus is on the owner to protect their land and to evict those who are occupying it, or to ultimately lose those rights. It all dates back to the ancient notion that land is taken and held by strenght and occupation. We've moved on a bit from taking land by force of arms (or so I would hope), but the principle still applies.

Having dealt with similar cases before it is likely NR (if Railtrack are anything to go by) will seek to remove the "illegal" use of the land and where possible offer it to the occupier for sale or rent. For the occupier that is is preferable as they obtain a better class of title.

However, should the NR land be unregistered and the occupation, meeting certain criteria, has been for more than the required number of years the title to the land passes to the squatter free of charge.

Again that all sounds correct to me. It all depends on the circumstances and what NR decides to do. In this case, it's entirely possible that title has already passed to whoever extended their garden on a commercial basis. It's equally plausible that at some point the occupier claimed title through adverse possession.
 

DarloRich

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I can think of a couple! The piece of land in question might be insignificant. A pragmatic view might be that it isn't worth the bother or expense of evicting someone or fighting their application for ownership if the land has no real value for the owner.

But it does have value, to both sides. NR will often sell such pieces of land to the occupier. That is actually better as the occupier ( and new owner) will be granted title absolute as opposed to possessory title. The later being almost un mortgageable. You couldnt, easily, sell a house built in part on such a title

NR might not even be aware of what happened. If the land is unregistered, the first they may know is if the receive notification of an application for first registration of that land. By which time they might not have a solid legal case for an objection to it.

Indeed - however the land has to be enclosed continuously for a 12 year period (amoungst other things) to create a possessory title. In honesty you would be better trying to buy the land, especially if it creates large extension to your property


You are correct. When someone is occupying land that isn't theirs, no matter what the land is, was or will be used for, the onus is on the owner to protect their land and to evict those who are occupying it, or to ultimately lose those rights. It all dates back to the ancient notion that land is taken and held by strenght and occupation. We've moved on a bit from taking land by force of arms (or so I would hope), but the principle still applies.

As long as we are both talking about the situation in England and Wales. God knows for Scotland!
 

Greenback

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But it does have value, to both sides. NR will often sell such pieces of land to the occupier. That is actually better as the occupier ( and new owner) will be granted title absolute as opposed to possessory title. The later being almost un mortgageable. You couldnt, easily, sell a house built in part on such a title

It doesn't always have value. Certainly not in terms of the expense of getting someone off that land, or objecting to an application for registration based on adverse possession.

Usually there is some kind of negotiation and settlement, but not always. I've been involved in a few cases myself where the registered owner, or the body that is thought to be the owner of unregistered land, have simply not responded in any way. In my opinion that's because they either didn't know that they were the owner, didn't care, or didn't think it was worth bothering about. That's particularly true of strips or what I use dot call postage stamp parcels of land.

One local government employee told me privately that their council's position on small tracts of land was to ask if someone who was occupying that land wanted to buy it, but if they said no not to pursue anything, because usually said land would be only be worth £100 - £200 at the most after the costs of the sale had been dealt with, and so it wasn't worth spending any money on it!

Indeed - however the land has to be enclosed for a 12 year period (amoungst other things) to create a possessory title. In honesty you would be better trying to buy the land, especially if it creates large extension to your property

Again, in most cases that's right. Not always though, because sometimes the land in question is too small and insignificant for the rightful owner to care, as referred to in my previous comment!

As long as we are both talking about the situation in England and Wales. God knows for Scotland!

That's very true! My training and experience is entirely based on land law in England and Wales :D
 

DarloRich

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It doesn't always have value. Certainly not in terms of the expense of getting someone off that land, or objecting to an application for registration based on adverse possession.

Usually there is some kind of negotiation and settlement, but not always. I've been involved in a few cases myself where the registered owner, or the body that is thought to be the owner of unregistered land, have simply not responded in any way. In my opinion that's because they either didn't know that they were the owner, didn't care, or didn't think it was worth bothering about. That's particularly true of strips or what I use dot call postage stamp parcels of land.

Most of the big public bodies i dealt with would try to make a "sale" if only to transfer title. As you say I doubt there was much value. Railtrack ( and I assume NR) always seemed to offer to sell, even if they could defeat an adverse possession claim.

If a danger of encroaching on the operational railway they would always remove the occupier.

One local government employee told me privately that their council's position on small tracts of land was to ask if someone who was occupying that land wanted to buy it, but if they said no not to pursue anything, because usually said land would be only be worth £100 - £200 at the most after the costs of the sale had been dealt with, and so it wasn't worth spending any money on it!

Again, in most cases that's right. Not always though, because sometimes the land in question is too small and insignificant for the rightful owner to care, as referred to in my previous comment!

Agreed but public owners (private owners can be very protective!) will often offer the parcel of land for, say £2500, in an effort to earn some money. Most accept the offer it to obtain the better class of title. In my view it is worth the money to reduce your hassle later on.

That's very true! My training and experience is entirely based on land law in England and Wales :D

They do things differently there! It is worth pointing out again that most of these comments also relate to unregistered land in England and Wales. The moral of the story: get your land registered with HM Land Registry!
 

Greenback

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Most of the big public bodies i dealt with would try to make a "sale" if only to transfer title. As you say I doubt there was much value. Railtrack ( and I assume NR) always seemed to offer to sell, even if they could defeat an adverse possession claim.

I'd imagine that different organisations would have different policies. I agree that most would be happy to sell in normal circumstances.

If a danger of encroaching on the operational railway they would always remove the occupier.

I would expect that. There would probably be safety issues or access issues if an occupier got too close to a running line.

Agreed but public owners (private owners can be very protective!) will often offer the parcel of land for, say £2500, in an effort to earn some money. Most accept the offer it to obtain the better class of title. In my view it is worth the money to reduce your hassle later on.

Absolutely. Many of the most contentious claims I was ever involved with were between private owners and usually involved some kind of boundary dispute history which culminated in adverse possession in some way. Once some people have th ebit between their teeth they become convinced they are absolutely in the right, and any form of agreement, negotation or compromise goes out of the window,

I doubt that would be the case with NR, or most public bodies. Business sense and corporate governance tends to lead to a more pragmatic approach!

The moral of the story: get your land registered with HM Land Registry!

You're beginning ot sound like an HMLR advert :lol:
 

Trog

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It used to be one of the things the local ganger would report up the chain of command but with modern mechanised maintenance does anyone feel "ownership" in the same way?

I have heard of length gangs registering their displeasure by rolling old concrete sleepers down embankments and through such patches.
 
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