The council had hoped to use proceeds from the sale of land donated for educational purposes by local philanthropists last century on funding new schools in the area.
But those plans were thwarted by the government which claims the plots were left in charitable trust, giving the CC no legal right to sell them off. Two plots of land - one donated free and the other for a token sum - are now the subject of the High Court test case which will have wide repercussions for local authorities up and down the country.
The land on which Liss Junior School, Rake Road, Liss, is built was donated by John Bonham Carter and the Rt Hon Baron Hylton in 1872 for the express purpose of providing a site for a school. The school is still open but the council hopes to build a modern replacement beside the existing infants school on Hill Brow Road. Sale of the Rake Road site would help provide funding for the new school.
When part of the site was sold to Eastleigh BC in 1987, no objection was raised by the charity commissioners, the council says. Mr Peter Crampin QC, for the council, said the central issue in the case was whether the method of donation of the two sites late last century now ties the council's hands.
'The first principal is whether the terms of the two conveyances are such as to create a charitable trust and secondly whether permission is required to deal with the process of sale. 'In these two cases, one was a conveyance on sale, admittedly for a small sum of money -- one pound -- and in the next case it was conveyance by way of gift.' The hearing continues.