Obscure Victorian law could hinder library sell-off
An obscure Victorian law could prevent councils from profitting on a potential library sell-off.
According to property firm DTZ, the Literary and Scientific Institutions Act of 1854, which was designed to encourage wealthy philanthropists to give land for the community, could hinder councils cashing in on their assets.
Rebekah Formosa, a consultant at DTZ, said: ‘There was one specific stipulation set by the benefactors: should the land cease to be used for the purposes specified at the time of granting it, a reverter clause would kick in, meaning the law would be transferred back to its original owner.’
The discovery of the law is not the first time such a situation has arisen. When the Church of England in 2005 sold-off a school in Kent, it had to return the proceeds to the 18 descendents of the original landowner, due to a reverter clause in the Schools Site Act of 1841.
But it is unclear how many council buildings are governed by the act affecting libraries.
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