Stadbury Meadow Car Park

Spelthorne Borough Council Statement

Spelthorne Borough Council has a leasehold interest in the access area at Shepperton Lock. The land adjoins land owned by Stadbury Meadow Car Park Limited (SMCP). The Freeholder is the Environment Agency and there are 45 years remaining on the Council's Lease.

On 26 April 1991, the Council, with the consent of the Freeholder, granted an Easement over part of the land it held under the Lease to SMCP. The Easement allowed access to the land owned by SMCP. The Easement was conditional on SMCP using their own land for the purposes of parking motor vehicles used by them in connection with their residential occupation of properties on Hamhaugh Island. The term of the Easement was 21 years from 8 July 1986 and the rent was set at a nominal amount.

As the Easement was due to expire on 7 July 2007, the Council wrote to SMCP in 2006 to seek clarification on whether they wished to renew the agreement, subject to the Council taking valuation advice. The Council is under a statutory duty to obtain best value on its land holdings for the Council's taxpayers.

Over the last 10 years there have been long, drawn out discussions as to the value of the right to use the land between the parties. Although the suggested rent is based on valuation advice obtained in 2013 and 2015, SMCP did not accept the valuation and the Council has made every effort to agree a compromise.

The Council has a duty to observe its obligations in its Lease from the Environment Agency and this means that the Council cannot allow the unauthorised access to continue.

On 13 June 2017 the Council wrote to the director of SMCP asking the company to confirm whether or not they agreed to enter into a Licence on the basis of the annual licence fee recommended by both the 2013 and 2015 valuations. The Council made it clear that if the offer was rejected or there was no response by 28 June 2017 the Council would have no alternative but to elevate a retractable bollard to prevent unauthorised access.

SMCP made a payment to the Council of a sum equivalent of two months' licence fee and a temporary licence was granted to SMCP to expire 31 August 2017. This was to allow SMCP time to discuss the matter with its shareholders. In the meantime the Council obtained a further valuation of the access which recommended an increased range for the licence fee. As we have said above the Council is under a statutory obligation to agree a licence fee representing best value for the sake of all of its residents.

Towards the end of August 2017 SMCP requested further time to discuss this matter and, on payment of another month's licence fee, the temporary licence was extended until 29 September 2017.

The Council advised SMCP's solicitor that if the Licence had not been agreed, completed and all sums due paid by close of business on 28 September 2017, the bollard would be elevated on 29 September 2017 to prevent unauthorised access over the Council's land. To date SMCP has not entered into a Licence.

The Council has been more than patient and accommodating with SMCP to avoid this kind of situation but has been forced to install a bollard to impress upon SMCP that unauthorised access cannot continue.