A recent case serves as a warning to developers who regard covenants as inconveniences rather than serious impediments.
Builder Wimpey had secured land in Gloucestershire and proposed to build 17 houses on it. The land had a covenant attached to it which prevented any building on it, so Wimpey applied to have the covenant removed.
Wimpey argued that the covenant impeded the ‘reasonable use of the land’ – a ground which can justify a covenant being modified or removed. However, a group of local people opposed the removal of the covenant on the ground that if the development took place, the character of the land would change from being semi-rural to being suburban. This, they argued, would cause them a substantial loss of amenity value.
The Tribunal backed the action group.
The case shows that determined opposition can make it difficult or impossible for a developer to proceed with the development of land which is subject to a ‘no build’ covenant.
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