Tribunal overturns covenant restricting development on building plot

A landowner has succeeded in overturning a covenant that prevented the construction of more than one house on any plot of land in a residential area.

The covenant was contained in a 1911 conveyance involving a large area of land that had been sold in plots for residential development. The covenant prevented the construction of more than one house on each plot.


The landowner bought part of one of the original plots in early 2014. At some point, a house had been constructed on the plot and, subsequently, part of the garden had been fenced off to create the new plot.


In mid-2014, the landowner sought to modify the restriction and obtain planning permission for the erection of a two-storey detached house.


The owners of a number of neighbouring properties objected, arguing that the proposed house would be out of character with the neighbourhood and would have an adverse effect on the amenity of the area by increasing the density of development.


The case went to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), which ruled in favour of the landowner. It held that the restriction impeded a reasonable user of the land yet provided little practical benefits to the objectors.


The development would result in some overshadowing of two neighbouring properties, reducing their value by 1.5% and 2.5%. However, money was adequate compensation and, beyond that, the benefits secured by the covenant could not be said to be of substantial value or advantage.


It had to be borne in mind that the law sought to provide a fair balance between development needs and the protection of private contractual rights.


The covenant would therefore be modified subject to the payment of compensation to the owners of the two overshadowed properties.


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Case featured:


Tribunal overturns covenant restricting development on building plot

[2016] UKUT 488 (LC)
UT (Lands) (Judge Peter McCrea) 23/11/2016


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