Lancashire farmer gets squatter's rights

Gerrard Winstanley evnuk at
Sat Oct 30 19:56:59 BST 2004

Farmer awarded squatter's rights
David Townley had grazed cows on the land for about 30 years
A farmer who grazed cattle for 30 years on land belonging to 
developers has won squatter's rights to the land. 

Topplan Estates, who thought they owned the 13 acres near Scotforth, 
Lancashire, are now in the position of having to buy the land again. 

The Appeal Court said farmer David Townley had been under no 
obligation to tell the developers he was continuing to farm on the 

Mr Townley intends to wait to see if the company will make an offer. 

Topplan Estates had planned to build about 500 Barrett homes on the 
land, which they first bought in 1992, but had yet to gain planning 

They accused Mr Townley of being "underhand" and that he had "lain 
low" while establishing squatter's rights. 

However, Lord Justice Parker said: "The activites of the squatter on 
the land must have been open and apparent to anyone who had eyes to this case they were." 

He upheld Mr Townley's squatter's rights because he had been in 
uninterrupted possession of the fields for at least 12 consecutive 

Mr Townley's family has farmed adjoining Whinney Carr Farm since the 

The disputed strip had at first been rented from another owner, who 
subsequently went bankrupt. Mr Townley continued to farm the land. 

He had started the legal action to establish his rights in 1996. 

Mr Towney, quoted in the Times on Thursday, said: "You could call it a 
triumph for the little man against the developers." 

He added: " We had actually farmed the land since 1964. We managed the 
land in a positive way for all those years." 

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