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Whilst many would dream of the rose gardens of Buckingham Palace, or the rolling lawns of Sandringham Estate when thinking about the Queen’s properties, most would be surprised to learn that the monarch’s wide-ranging property portfolio includes local land such as that of Altrincham Retail Park.
Property the monarch owns in the North West ranges from part of Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, land by Altrincham retail park, Chester Castle, Cheshire Military Museum and Oldham County Court.
The monarch can own property in several ways including that belonging to the Queen personally, and property owned in the right of the crown, known as The Crown Estate.
Property owned by the Crown Estate belongs to the reigning monarch during their reign, but is not their private property. It cannot therefore be sold by the reigning monarch, and is managed by an independent organisation as a real estate business, with surplus revenue paid to the treasury for the benefit of all UK taxpayers.
The Crown Estate owns a wide-ranging property portfolio including land, sea and offshore wind turbines. Over 1,183 plots of land in the North West including mineral rights and rights to gold and silver, mostly in Cheshire, belong to the Crown Estate.
The Crown Estate originated in 1760 when King George III reached an agreement with the Government that surplus revenue of property owned by the monarch would go to the Treasury, and in return the King would receive a fixed annual payment. Today the Crown Estate is governed by the Crown Estate Act 1961, and is accountable to Parliament, to which it reports annually.
In its 2017/2018 annual report, the Crown Estate announced that its portfolio was worth £14.1 billion, with a net revenue profit of £329.4 million.
The Crown can also own land as “bona vacantia”. The estates of those that die without a Will (intestate) and without known kin (entitled blood relatives), or the goods and property of companies that dissolve pass to the Crown by a process named “bona vacantia”.
Bona vacantia can be avoided by ensuring assets or property are dealt with before a company is dissolved, or for individuals by regularly updating and registering a Will with a national Will register.
If you own a leasehold house where the freeholder is a company that has been dissolved, you can make an application to the Bona Vacantia Division, which is a Government Department, to purchase the freehold title of your lease.
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