Estate of the nation

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the legal issues when a developer sells property within a new estate to the council
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Cartoon about affordable housing allocations at new estates
© Malcolm Willett (
Question: We bought a new-build house on a private estate in May. Only a third have sold and the builder is having huge problems selling the remainder.

I have now heard that the council might buy all the remaining houses.

I will feel very cheated if this happens as I specifically asked whether any of the houses on the estate were designated as affordable housing and this was an important point in deciding whether to buy the house.

Is there anything that can be done, or can the developer sell to anyone it wants?

Answer: It is unusual for planning consent for a modern housing estate not to require the builder to provide a certain amount of affordable housing.

However, it appears there is no planning restriction in this case and there is no general rule that would stop a developer selling one or more properties to the council.But you say you specifically asked about this before reserving the house.

I assume you received a satisfactory reply but you do not say whether this came from the developer, their agent or their solicitors. It is possible where you rely on a statement that later proves to be incorrect to claim misrepresentation. This will give you a range of redress against the developer.

In their contracts for sale, however, most developers will reserve wide powers to deal with the rest of the estate as they wish and will limit liability for statements made on their behalf, except where they are repeated in writing by their solicitors.

You must contact the solicitor who acted for you in your purchase to find out whether the statement is one that gives you a right of action against the developer.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors

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