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Written by John Turnbull, Chairman

It has never been easy to value these, given the various issues involved.

Not the least problem for a developer is finding a solution where the owner of the access ransom knows the importance to the developers. In reverse, that is where the landowner realises he has a commercial advantage. YoungsRPS finds itself acting on both sides of this issue. The lack of any statutory framework to work in leaves the parties in a free market. So, a commercial solution has to be found.

As a reminder, Stokes v Cambridge (1961) 180 EG 839 which was a compulsory purchase case assessed, in the particular circumstances of that case, the relevant payment as one third of the value of the development site after deduction of:

  • Developer’s profit
  • The cost of “roads, sewers, fencing, consents and contingencies”
  • The value of the site without the benefit of the ransom strip

It is worth noting that in Stokes the Tribunal took into account further land which Cambridge owned, which would likely also benefit in the future from the access, and therefore the value of the ransom was enhanced. This one third was deemed by the Tribunal to be the appropriate amount in the circumstances and on the particular facts of that case, it is not necessarily the answer in other cases.

Clearly the existence of other access points will serve to dilute the ransom owner’s position. For a developer or owner of a development site suffering the possibility of an access ransom, there is some help in Section 226 of Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which contains grounds on which a local planning authority may exercise powers to acquire access land. However, this is unlikely to be effective unless, amongst other things, there is reason to believe the acquisition will “support the development, redevelopment or improvement of the land plus deliver economic, social or environmental wellbeing to the area”. So it is far from an easy process.

To conclude, the landowner/ developer is going to be at the mercy of the access ransom owner unless:

  • Insurance can be obtained
  • There are genuine alternative accesses
  • Section 226 can work

Further, the owner of the ransom land needs to make sure that further development beyond the initial proposal is also taken into account, either at the time or by an overage agreement.


For further information or advice please contact your local YoungsRPS office

Northallerton:    01609 781 234

Dumfries:           01848 332 414

Hexham:            01434 609 000

Alnwick:             01665 606 800

Sedgefield:        01740 622 100

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