The Department of Health yesterday published its findings on the number of parcels of land declared as surplus or potentially surplus currently held by NHS trusts.

There was a 100% return rate from 399 NHS trusts with 188 (47%) of these declaring at least one parcel of land surplus. In total 414 separate parcels were identified – with 330 of these parcels being greater than 0.25 hectares in size.

If your Trust has been identified as having surplus land available for disposal it is important that you structure the disposal in order to maximise the land value.   We can help with all aspects of surplus land disposals and offer keen and competitive pricing arrangements under existing NHS legal frameworks. We advised the Department on the terms of the Estatecode and are therefore in a unique position to advise if its provisions have been followed.

We have a vast portfolio of legal work which we undertake for individual NHS Trusts across the country.  We therefore have specific knowledge in dealing with the varying circumstances of each Trust and can ensure that the disposal of the site is in accordance with the Trust’s powers.  This would include:

  • Ensuring that the method of sale (whether a formal tender; informal tender etc) complies with the powers of the Trust to sell the site
  • Involving Monitor where necessary (if the Trust has applied for Foundation Trust status)
  • Considering the relevance of Estatecode (which is not strictly binding on Foundation Trusts but adherence to which is recommended).  We drafted large parts of the Estatecode on behalf of the Department
  • Considering the provisions relating to Protected Assets (and in particular ensuring that any other public sector organisations that might be entitled to use the site, rather than it being disposed to the open market, are consulted where necessary)
  • Consideration if a planning permission should be obtained by the Trust before disposal
  • Advising on the impact of restrictive covenants on the Trust’s ability to sell land, and on resolving covenant issues by simple insurance or by application to the Lands Tribunal or the High Court
  • Advising on other third party rights asserted over the site, such as rights of way
  • Dealing with the removal of, or the formalisation of arrangements relating to, existing occupiers (e.g. through the Landlord and Tenant Act procedures)
  • Resolving boundary and encroachment disputes, which typically need to be resolved prior to disposal
  • Helping with the removal of telecom operators
  • Drafting of clawback and overage provisions.

Do you know exactly what estate you own?

Given the pending transfer of the PCT estate, are you confident that:

  • You have an up to date list of all the properties in the ownership of the PCT to which the title is registered at the Land Registry?
  • The PCT is the registered owner of all the properties it believes it owns?
  • There are no properties still registered at the Land Registry in the name of the PCT’s predecessors in function, including dissolved NHS bodies?

If the answer to any of the above questions is “no”, then you may be interested to know that there is now a way of checking the Land Registry’s records to see what properties are registered in the name of a particular organisation.

We can liaise with the Land Registry to help you obtain an accurate list of the properties in the name of the PCT and those properties registered in the name of specified former NHS bodies, and then advise you to ensure that any anomalies are identified and resolved prior to the transfer of the PCT’s estate.

This service is not limited to just PCTs and we can also carry out this exercise for other NHS bodies.

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