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propertylawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 288
Experience:  Property solicitor with expertise in commercial and residential property transactions.
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I live in an area where the land was once owned by Bristol

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I live in an area where the land was once owned by Bristol City Council. When the land was released by Bristol City Council, decades ago, for development of housing, there was a condition put in place that only single dwellings could be built. The deeds to my property and the others surrounding replicate this condition. For example; if I want to demolish my house and build a different house, that's fine so long as I get planning permission. The difficulty is that, two doors away, the owner of a perfectly habitable house (a single dwelling) has agreed with a property developer, and the planning application to demolish the house and build a 3-storey block of flats has been lodged with the local authority in whose area the land now sits (not within Bristol City Council's area). The question is: can the title deeds condition be enforced to prevent this monstrous over-development if planning permission is granted? If so, how would one go about it?

Hi Dave

Thanks for your question.

I hope I can help you.

Sounds like the deeds contain a restrictive covenant. Without seeing the actual deeds I will answer in general terms.

Whilst there may be the existence of a restrictive covenant in the deeds there is criteria which needs to be satisfied to ensure that it is enforceable. Only the person who has the benefit of the restrictive can enforce it.

It may be the case that the council has the benefit but may choose not to enforce if it wants the developer to undertake the development. It may also be the case that the developer has got / will get the restrictive covenant released or insures against a potential breach.

To recap, only the person who has the benefit of the covenant can enforce it. Even if a covenant is enforceable there are ways a developer can get around it to ensure the development proceeds.

I hope this helps. Do let me know if you have any further questions or queries in respect of my answer.

Please can I ask you to accept /positive rate my reply.

Kind regards


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Good morning Paul. I think you have fully answered my question - unless I have misunderstood something, your response means that I and my neighbours cannot seek to enforce the covenant that is found in the title deeds of our properties, and in the title deeds of the particular property in question. Only Bristol City Council could do that. BCC's view is that they have no wish to become involved in enforcing the covenant and that it is a matter for North Somerset Council to decide (in whose domain my neighbours and I reside). Knowing this is BCC's stance is why I asked my original question. In summary, then; title deed covenants of the form being discussed can, one way or another, be pretty much meaningless? Please confirm (or otherwise!) my understanding of your response. Many thanks. Dave

Hi Dave

Based on what you have said, as I have not read the restrictive covenant /title, yes. Usually the person who has the benefit of the restrictive covenant would not see the restrictive covenant in its own deeds. The restrictive covenant is in the deeds of the burdened land. If you cannot enforce a restrictive covenant if you do not have the the benefit. So in your position the fact there is a restrictive covenant is meaningless if the person with the benefit does not wish to enforce it.

The planning department will not take the restrictive covenant into account when considering the planning application.

The council may well have benefitted financial from this, I mentioned above that one way round a restrictive covenant is to get the land released - this generally means buy off the person with the benefit.

If, at the planning stage, you wish to object you can mention its existence on the deeds but your argument needs to focus on destruction of the street scene, over burdening of the highway, potential for increase in street parking etc.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

Please can I remind you to accept / leave a positive rating. Thanks.

Kind regards


Hi Dave

Can I help further?

propertylawyer and 2 other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Paul. Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier but I've been away from my IT all day. Back on line now! Many thanks for your help; there isn't anything further at this time. I have given your responses a 5-star rating. Many thanks once again. Dave

Hi Dave

Many thanks. Glad I could help.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

All the best