It is over 600 years since Pwllheli in North Wales was given its charter by Edward, the Black Prince.
But now the ancient market town is at the centre of a Royal claim over the “manorial rights” to the ground on which its foundations are built. Around 1,300 homeowners in Pwllheli and nearby Morfa Nefyn have been sent letters saying the Crown Estate wants to register ownership of mines and minerals beneath their houses.
The estate, which manages sovereign land, says it has owned rights over the minerals for many centuries and is now having to register its ownership after protection over these rights was withdrawn under new land registration laws.
But the letters sent out by the Land Registry notifying residents of the claim have sparked “worry and alarm” according to the town’s MP, who says the Crown Estate’s bid mirrors the “grasping, unprincipled landlordism” that has bedevilled Wales in the past.
The row comes two years after residents in Anglesey and the Arfon area of Gwynedd pledged to challenge similar notices sent out on behalf of the Crown Estate claiming ownership over ancient rights to minerals and mining.
Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, which includes Pwllheli, said: “This has alarmed my constituents and has been the cause of great worry for local people
UK news in pictures
UK news in pictures
1/17 22 June 2017
Cosplay fans (L-R) George Massingham, Abbey Forbes and Karolina Goralik travel by tube dressed in Harry Potter themed costumes, after a visit to one the literary franchise's movie filming locations at Leadenhall Market in London, Britain
2/17 22 June 2017
Racegoers cheer on their horse on Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London
3/17 21 June 2017
A reveller walks among the tipi tents at the Glastonbury Festival of Music and Performing Arts on Worthy Farm near the village of Pilton in Somerset, South West England
4/17 20 June 2017
A police officer lays some flowers passed over by a member of the public, close to Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, after one man died and eight people were taken to hospital and a person arrested after a rental van struck pedestrian
The Borough Market bell is seen in Borough Market in central London following its re-opening after the June 3 terror attack
Two women embrace in Borough Market, which officially re-opens today following the recent attack, in central London
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attends the re-opening of Borough market in central London following the June 3 terror attack
People walk through Borough Market in central London following its re-opening after the June 3 terror attack
News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, with one of his daughters, visit Borough Market, which officially re-opened today following the recent attack
A woman reacts in front of a wall of messages in Borough Market, which officially re-opened today following the recent attack, in central London
Vivenne Westwood walks the runway at the Vivenne Westwood show during the London Fashion Week Men's June 2017 collections
Millwall fan and London Bridge hero Roy Larner on 'Good Morning Britain'
Richard Arnold, Roy Larner, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on 'Good Morning Britain'
14/17 11 June 2017
England players celebrate after defeating Venezuela 1-0 to win the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea 2017 at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, South Korea
15/17 11 June 2017
England players celebrate with the trophy after the final match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2017 between Venezuela and England at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, South Korea
16/17 11 June 2017
Great Britain's Alistair Brownlee celebrates winning the Elite Men Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds
Danny Lawson/PA Wire
17/17 11 June 2017
Two men drink beer outside the Southwark Tavern which reopened for business today next to an entrance to Borough Market which remains closed in London
“Staking claim to mining and mineral rights reeks of the 19th century, not the 21st century. There is no place for this kind of approach today.”
Mike Parry, a town councillor in Pwllheli, said: “These letters are worrying for people, especially the elderly, who are concerned about what will happen to their homes.”
The Crown Estate is an independent commercial business, with a history dating back to 1066. It has been tasked by Parliament since 1760 with managing the sovereign’s land.
Over the last 10 years it has returned a £2.3bn profit to the Treasury. Its portfolio includes Regent Street and much of St James’s in London – and the entire UK seabed.
Homeowners in Pwllheli have been told they can challenge the claim, but must provide evidence that they are entitled to whatever minerals might lie beneath their homes.
The minerals, if they exist at all, might include deposits of sand, rock or even quartz. But they would not include coal, oil, gas, silver or gold, which are covered by other legislation.
A spokeswoman for the Crown Estate said: “Along with many other landowners, the Crown Estate is in the process of registering historical mineral rights with the Land Registry.
“These claims are not new and we would like to reassure local residents that the registration process is in no way an indication of our intent to begin mining, which in any event would require planning permission and the surface owner’s consent.”Reuse content