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Auction of park in Henllys has been ‘withdrawn’ but not stopped

Residents in Henllys were surprised to find a park in their community had been listed for sale by auction on RightMove with a guide price of £45,000.

The park has two entrances, one off Henllys Way and one through Tegfan Court. A resident spotted the listing on the website and alerted Henllys Community Council who were alarmed as they were under the impression the land was owned by Torfaen Council.

a fence gate
One entrance to the park is off Henllys Way

There was a proposal last year to remove the play equipment because residents felt it wasn’t suitable for young children due it to being hidden by bushes and trees. More information on the Torfaen Council consultation is further down in this story where the council said if the proposal went ahead it would be maintained as a ‘natural green space’.

Meeting on Monday 12 September 2022

Henllys Community Council had their monthly meeting in the village hall and the first item discussed was the 0.8 acre park. The meeting was attended by Cllr Valerie Waters, Cllr Brenda Everett and Cllr Lawrence Smith-Higgins.

Councillors said they started taking action as soon as residents alerted them to the sale. Cllr Smith-Higgins said he was away on a short-break in late August when news broke of the sale and he was contacted by residents who were “rightly concerned.”

The community council contacted Torfaen Council to ask about ownership of the land and the issue was taken up by their ‘principal solicitor’.

Cllr Waters carried out a Land Registry search and found the land is owned by David Mclean Homes Ltd. A search on Companies House shows this company’s status is ‘liquidation’. Councillors said that the land should have been transferred and ‘adopted’ by Torfaen Council ‘within 18 months’ of 29 October 1991. This would have been around the time that the houses surrounding the park were built.

Councillors said that after the intervention the council told them the land had been ‘withdrawn for now’.

Cllr Higgins added: “We were being questioned by residents who thought we had done nothing as a community council. We were all over this, but residents didn’t know. I put out a note saying that we were on it.”

Councillors agreed to issue a statement following the meeting. Cllr Smith-Higgins said: “It stops all the conjecture and claims that it’s been solved. People should know what are doing, just because we don’t take to social media every ten minutes.”

Adrian Isaacs, clerk to the council, said the county council told him the sale is “suspended, not stopped” and he was “waiting for a colleague to tell him where we go from here.”

Councillors said the park has been maintained by the county council for “30 years plus”.

Cllr Everett said: “I didn’t realise that Torfaen had to complete on it. If they say it wasn’t put to them to instigate, no building company is going to go to them and say ‘we want to give you money’.”

Councillors agreed to carry out land registry searches on other parks in the area where they have spent money.

Cwmbran Life has contacted Torfaen Council for more information.

2021 consultation on the park

a field
The park also includes areas of open grass

The council held a consultation about removing the play equipment after residents said it was unsuitable for children due to it being enclosed. The park is surrounded by bushes and trees and residents said there was a problem with anti-social behaviour as it was hidden from view. The consultation asked residents:

A number of people have previously indicated that the play area is unsuitable for play equipment due to it being enclosed. There have also been reports of anti-social behaviour on the site. Removal of the play equipment is not expected to negatively impact the provision of suitable play opportunities in the area, as there are two better-equipped play areas in more suitable locations nearby. The proposal is to restore the area to natural green space and manage it as such, with maintained access paths. As such it will of course continue to be suitable for informal play.


The RightMove listing

It’s described on the website as a ‘Freehold parcel of land’ and was due to go to auction on 15 September 2022. The listing ‘by order of the liquidators’ on RightMove now says, ‘This property has been removed by the agent’.

a for sale sign on the floor
This For Sale was in the ground outside the park but is now on the ground

Full statement from Henllys Community Council following the meeting

Sale of Playground off Henllys Way (Tegfan Court Playing field) Further Update. Yesterday evening members of Henllys Community Council discussed the latest developments regarding the sale of this park. It was noted that when we became aware of the issue at the end of August community councillors acted immediately. The first action was to inform our Borough Councillors and Torfaen CBC.

On behalf of Henllys Community Council Cllr Val Waters conducted and paid for a Land Registry search. The Title Register obtained recorded the following:
1. Ownership – page 12 – the freehold title is registered to David Mclean Homes Ltd. The title was registered on the 14th July 1994
2. Provisions for transfer to Torfaen – under a transfer dated 29th October 1991 between Land Authority for Wales and David McClean (Civil Engineering) Limited there is a covenant at page 20 section 9.4 which states:
“within 18 months of the date hereof to offer said land coloured green on the plan and the hedge referred to in 9.2 above for adoption by the Local Authority and to take all steps necessary to ensure their adoption (including in particular but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing to enter into any bond or other arrangements (financial or otherwise) that the Local Authority may require in respect of the maintenance of the open space area).”
(We assume there was an inter-company transfer from David McClean Civil Engineering) Limited to David Mclean Homes Limited). What was immediately apparent was that the park should have been adopted by Torfaen CBC under the transfer provisions in 1991.

Cllr Val waters also registered an interest with the Auctioneers so she could update fellow community councillors on developments.

We were notified last week that the play park had been withdrawn from the auction as a result of representations made by Torfaen’s Principal Solicitor and that further discussions will take place to find a satisfactory way forward.

The issue has not been settled but we are satisfied that action is now being taken to resolve matters.

As your Community Council we will continue to press Torfaen CBC on this issue and update residents. In the meantime, we would like to thank Cllr Peter Jones for providing us with the latest update and Torfaen’s Principal Solicitor for ensuring that the park was withdrawn from the auction.


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Auction of park in Henllys has been ‘withdrawn’ but not stopped

a play park
The park was not sold at auction