Legal Diary: Wimbledon Common in a tangle on access survey

Latest news on trustees in south-west London and a disputed land survey

Progress of sorts on our story from December about the trustees of Wimbledon and Putney Commons in south London being told by the Charity Commission to comply with the law and get a survey of the value of access rights it granted to Wandsworth Borough Council in 2014.

They sold the rights for access to the former Putney Hospital site, now being turned into a school and flats, for only £350,000, and did so without getting a survey. A concerned group of the trustees commissioned a retrospective survey from the firm Montague Evans, which estimated that the charity should have charged about £1.5m more.

The trustee body as a whole refused to recognise this survey, but 10 months after the commission intervened, ordering it to work out how much it had should have charged, has now agreed on a process to choose a firm to conduct a new survey that it will recognise.

The trustees have asked the law firm Charles Russell Speechlys to produce a shortlist of potential surveyors, which will cost £26,000, according to a well-placed source.

They have also spent more of the charity's money asking lawyers whether they actually have to pay ME £25,000, plus £2,000 interest, for its earlier retrospective survey - it turns out they do. The charity itself won't confirm these figures.

ME has offered to revisit its survey, taking into account any information trustees believe it might have missed. But this offer has been rejected in favour of getting a survey from new surveyors, with a price tag of up to £60,000.

So it seems the only winners so far are the lawyers and surveyors.

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