Antique restrictive covenants are found in the title deeds of many period properties and can have a deadening effect on development opportunities. However, as an Upper Tribunal (UT) ruling recently reviewed by David Watson showed, they are not written in stone.
A large suburban house was subject to a number of restrictive covenants, some of which dated back to the Victorian era. One of them forbade construction of more than one dwelling on the plot. A developer had obtained planning permission to demolish the house and replace it with a block of eight flats.
Being unable to proceed with the project whilst the covenant remained in place, the developer applied to the UT under Section 84(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925 to discharge it. The application was fiercely resisted by residents of a neighbouring property, which had itself been converted into flats in the 1960s.