Boundary

Get Energised!

Aura, Education, and the National Museum of Scotland.
 

In 2015, Directors of Aura, Michael and Steven founded "The Empowered Project". 

 
The project was established to inspire change in the way Renewable Energy Sources are used and perceived by educating children – and the wider community - of the importance of sustainability in our future.
 
The Empowered project led to Aura working closely with the National Museum of Scotland and their "Get Energised!" programme which is sponsored by Scottish Power. 
 
In this video now shown in classrooms across the country, Michael speaks about his career in the energy sector. 

Michael and Steven also feature in the "Talking Points" video, designed to encourage school pupils to consider what renewable technologies mean to them.

We believe that change in the way we use our resources starts with our children. Let them be Empowered.

On the Fence: Issue #1

As land boundary mapping specialists, we’re often asked how our services tie with the Registers of Scotland (RoS) procedures and requirements.

In Scotland, solicitors and estate agents are responsible for the submission of suitable plans to the Register of Scotland.

But what makes a plan "suitable"?

As a professional mapping firm, Aura are regularly asked whether we can produce title deed plans that clearly represent the described legal extent of a deed in its relative location to ensure that the plan is "suitable" for registration.   

In this article, we address some questions that have arisen, linking them directly with common issues encountered during first registration of plans through the Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012. 


Defined Boundaries: imaginary or invisible lines.
 


Q: Defined boundaries alluded to in historical plans can sometimes be imaginary or invisible lines that were agreed at some time between concerned parties. These do not follow features or boundary lines and are not shown on Ordnance Survey mapping. How can you map these boundaries if you cannot see where they physically lie?

defined boundaries land survey edinburgh

 

A: Provided there is at least some reference to the position of defined boundary lines in historic title deeds or that they are shown on the title plan (even if it is not precise), we will use our software to investigate positioning with reasonable confidence, marking our understanding of where they should lie clearly on a professional plan. Invariably with older titles, determination of boundaries involves close examination and plotting of natural features such as burns, marshes or hills that may have been in common opinion, boundaries. Where uncertainties still exist, evidence of possession is the next point-of-call for us. We will map artificial features - such as boundary stones or fences - to ensure that all possibilities are captured in order for a conclusion to be drawn. 


Physical boundaries that do not coincide with the Legally Defined Extent.
 


Q: Physical boundaries that denote the “occupied” extent are not always coincident with described boundaries. In many cases, boundary structures can suffer movement: for example, if a hedge is left untended it might take root where it touches the ground and become very wide, making its original line hard to discern. So even if it is clear that the boundary once ran along the hedge, identifying this boundary on the ground may become very difficult. How can Aura discern the position of these boundaries?

boundary structure edinburgh survey

A: We use the latest in measurement technology. So, when we measure a boundary - be it a hedge, wall or fence – we will plot the outer, inner, and centre of the feature on our maps. This means that in the office we can investigate and plot all possibilities to determine the most likely legal position of the boundary in question. So if the extent of a property is "bounded by" or "enclosed with" the a described feature, we'll be sure to depict the legal position accurately.
 
Our mapping and investigation services also mean that we can quickly identify if, and how far, the boundary has moved - this methodology being used to resolve numerous disputes or to submit an accurate plan to the Registers of Scotland.
 
In the case of dispute, professional survey involvement might be the effective means to identify boundary locations from existing legal documentation. When a wall or fence is to be constructed on, or even nearby, the boundary line, the consent of both proprietors is necessary to prevent the structure being considered an encroachment. Aura can physically mark out the true position of legal boundaries on the ground, enabling a physical boundary to be re-positioned or constructed in the right place when a dispute is resolved.

 


Registration of plans on Ordnance Survey maps.
 

 
Q:  We often find that the boundaries shown on Ordnance Survey maps differ to those shown in historical plans meaning that first registration can be rejected due to overlap, discrepancies, or inaccuracies. How does Aura deal with inaccuracies in Ordnance Survey data that cause issues during registration?

ordnance survey maps different mapping

A:  In our experience, features shown on Ordnance Survey maps are rarely depicted accurately. This is a concern as many plans are currently being submitted with errors in what they show, leading to rejections or potential issues in the future. If there is a discrepancy, the first step should be an on-site comparison between occupational boundaries described on the Ordnance Map and those that actually exist on site.
 
When we map the physical boundaries around a property (usually the occupied extent) to millimetre accuracy, we often find that the extent depicted by Ordnance Survey data is a long way from matching what actually exists on the ground. Our aim is to then produce a plan that enables rectification of Ordnance Survey data for unobstructed registration of the plan.
 
In cases where Plans Reports have been requested or issued, we can quickly and efficiently address reported discrepancies or inaccuracies. We then work directly with solicitors – coming to the firms office - to lead the way to a solution. In cases, we have enabled halted sales to be concluded within days: proceeding without professional survey involvement could have led to weeks or even months of delay.


Positioning of legal boundaries when historical plans are unclear.
 


Q:  Can you determine the position of legal boundaries if historical plans are insufficiently clear?

legal boundaries edinburgh historical plans

A:  Once we have been appointed, we conduct a measured survey of all existing physical boundaries denoting "occupied extent" and all areas indicated to be the legal extent. Our state of the art mapping equipment that enables us to determine the Global Position of any point along a boundary. We will then digitally re-create historic legal title plans and overlay them upon our accurate map. This enables us to assess the accuracy of existing plans, the position of existing features, and the exact position of the legal boundaries that have not been marked by a fence, wall, or hedge. If discrepancies between the occupied extent and the legal extent exist, our report will describe where these have stemmed from so that solicitors and legal parties can proceed with confidence.



Plan Production for Boundary Agreements.
 


Q:  Most of the plans we submit show the general position of boundaries according to the Ordnance Survey. On occasions where an owner might require something more precise, perhaps in the case of dispute, can your plans be used for a boundary agreement application?

Fence posts boundary agreements icon


 
A:  Yes. We take accuracy very seriously and the equipment we use means that we can report the global coordinate of every point around a boundary so that there is no ambiguity surrounding its position. Our plans clearly show the agreed legal extent of a property and include the precise coordinates of all boundaries.


Click here to see an example.


 

In sum, land boundary matters can be challenging for all parties involved. Because we treat boundary matters as an on-site investigation, drawing information from all resources available and bringing them together, we can reach informed conclusions quickly. We act on appointment of solicitors as support to resolving difficult boundary matters. Our findings are always presented as a concise report to enable sales to conclude or boundary matters to be resolved as effectively as possible.
 

Defining Boundaries. Resolving Disputes

Don't fight over a fence. 
 

boundary-disputes-edinburgh

Assisting in the resolution of land ownership dispute accounts for a significant portion of the work that comes to our business. Interestingly, we often find that when we are appointed, the parties involved have been peaceful neighbours for many years. Further, and more often than not, our site visit informs that none of the disputed boundaries have been physically changed: a fence has not been moved by a sneaky neighbour hoping to increase the size of their garden when next door is on holiday; the retiree next door hasn't built an eleven story shed to fill his days, with half falling within the neighbour’s garden. 

 
How can long-term, mutual contentedness for the position of a boundary turn into a vicious argument between neighbours when nothing has even changed? Well, the dispute often coincides with the sale of one of the properties either side of the boundary. The fly in the ointment of years of neighbourly peace: The Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012.
 
The Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012 was introduced to "reform and restate the law on the registration of rights to land" while establishing a complete "map-based public register of land and property ownership" in Scotland. While we fully support the intent of the register, we know that a project of this scale is rarely executed without some snags...
 
The re-registration of a Title under the new act requires all existing boundaries to be outlined on the Ordnance Survey Map. This is where problems begin to arise. You see, the Ordnance Survey map only exists as a representation of what can actually be found on the ground. In our experience, it is rarely truly accurate.
 
The second issue arises when the historical title plan for a property is compared with the Ordnance Survey map. Often, historical title plans exist as incomprehensible floating shapes that are difficult to correlate with the property in question. Adding to this is a likely inaccuracy of the measurements displayed on the plan, attributed to historical measurement techniques. Therefore, many of the age-old plans that we see also do not accurately reflect the actual occupied extent of boundaries that have existed for years. Until now, this has never been considered a problem.

So, when two documents that are prone to error are compared, discrepancies are likely to occur. This is often when the Keeper of the Deeds sends a report (known as a Plans Report) to the solicitor involved in a sale. The issued Plans Report highlights where discrepancies have arisen. However, we stress that it is quite common for no report to be issued by the Keeper. Do be aware that this does not guarantee that the Ordnance Survey submitted plan has been deemed accurate it's just that part of the Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012 places responsibility on the solicitor for ensuring the accuracy of each plan submitted. Therefore, should it be discovered further down the line that the plan isn't accurate, this could lead to a legal nightmare for the parties involved, with the Soliciting firm that originally submitted the plan being the first to be blamed.
 
Now back to our story of a war between formerly peaceful neighbours. In our experience, when discrepancies arise, they often create the illusion that one or more of the boundaries surrounding a property is in the wrong place - usually making it seem that the legal extent of one piece of land is actually larger than what is shown on the ground. The party who owns this property is typically quick to think that they've won the land ownership jackpot and can become convinced that they can "claim back" the land they feel they are legally entitled to. Bitterness ensues. Aura is called.

Using the latest in survey technology, our experienced team accurately model the position of the boundaries as they exist. Our investigation then involves the digital recreation of the historical Title Plan. Both of these are then overlaid on the Ordnance Survey map, meaning that we can effectively demonstrate where discrepancies have been born from. This investigation has led to the rapid resolution of countless disputes or Plans Report challenges.
 
As professionals in our field, we highly recommend that a survey of the boundaries of any property is conducted. This means that the chance of ownership ambiguity causing issues in the future is eliminated. Moreover, we can conduct a survey at any time so there is no need to wait for things to get nasty between neighbours. For peace of mind now, or during the purchase of a new home or piece of land, Aura can mitigate the potential for expensive and unnecessary disputes. If there is already an on-going legal battle or there is already trouble with registering a Title Plan in the new system, we can help to resolve that too!