Covenants containing restrictions on the use or development of land can cause problems between neighbours.
Recently, a couple obtained planning permission to build a bungalow on a corner of their land.
Their property was subject to a covenant on development, which prevented them from building a residential property on it without the agreement of their neighbour. This was asked for and denied. The neighbour was of the view that the occupants of the bungalow would have use of the surrounding garden land and this might interfere with her privacy. She was unmoved by the argument that the owners of the existing property could use the land themselves without a bungalow being built and this would have the same effect on her privacy but would not breach the restrictive covenant.
The couple applied to the Lands Tribunal to have the covenant lifted. It refused permission and so they appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The Court upheld the decision of the Lands Tribunal. In its view, the value of the covenant to the neighbour was that her privacy was protected not only by prevention of the building, but also because of the potential use of the surrounding land as a garden. It was not in point that the benefit to her derived from the covenant restricting construction of the building, rather than restriction of use of the land in question as a garden.