A WARNING TO BIDDERS
Prominent advertisements for a Venmore Partnership property auction - to be held on 21st March - have recently appeared in both the Liverpool Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo. Under the heading DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES are listed various pieces of land in Wavertree Garden Suburb.
But this is NOT 'development' land. It mostly consists of former allotment areas, hidden away behind the houses and inaccessible from the public highway. In many cases all that is for sale is the freehold interest - the land in question being held on a 999-year lease by the adjacent house owner. In some cases there is not even a ground rent payable. In other cases the pieces of land are so small that the legal costs involved in their transfer would probably be greater than the value of the land.
The land is being offered for sale on behalf of a London firm called Merchant Estate Ltd, who purchased the freeholds about three years ago and since then have been trying to recoup their financial outlay. A firm of surveyors called NRB (Nigel R Bone) has been writing to individual householders inviting them to make a prior offer for particular pieces of land. By including them in a public auction like this - with the implication that someone else might seek to come in and take possession - Merchant Estate are no doubt hoping to scare the house owners who currently occupy or overlook the land into agreeing to purchase it at a price higher than its true value.
Two years ago, a different firm of Liverpool auctioneers - Messrs Kersh - were involved in a similar exercise on behalf of Merchant Estate Ltd and their agents NRB. We know of at least one person from outside the area who bought one of the plots, only to find that he could not even access it, let alone build on it. Another person was not even allowed to put a fence round the land she had bought, let alone 'develop' it, owing to the Conservation Area restrictions to which it was subject.
When we drew the legal and planning complexities to the attention of James Kersh in 2005, he stated that 'there is no development angle'. Unfortunately Venmores do not, as yet, seem to share this view. We have, however, sent them copies of our previous correspondence with Kersh Auctions and NRB Chartered Surveyors, in the hope that they will see sense and withdraw the land from their sale catalogue.