A couple who bought a home in the country to enjoy a quiet life have succeeded in preventing a landowner building houses that would spoil their view.
The issue arose after the couple bought the home in a large area of open countryside. The landowner who sold the property to them retained the adjoining land and nearby buildings.
As part of the sale, the landowner agreed to a restrictive covenant under which he would not erect buildings on his retained land without the couple’s consent.
However, he then breached the covenant by converting barn buildings to residential properties without notice.
The couple took legal action to enforce the covenants. The landowner argued that the fairest solution would be to provide the couple with compensation rather than stop the development going ahead.
The judge rejected that argument and granted an injunction preventing the landowner from undertaking further building works and from selling the completed residential properties.
He considered that it was an exceptional case where the argument for an injunction rather than damages was very clear because the couple didn’t want compensation; they wanted to enjoy a peaceful life.
The Court of Appeal has upheld that decision.
It said the landowner’s conduct had been reprehensible and the judge’s ruling had been justified.
He had accepted that it would be regrettable to take down the recent works or leave them untouched, and that both parties would be better off if damages were awarded. However, he had also found that the couple’s priority in buying the property was their preference for rural life, in an isolated area with few neighbours.
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Couple prevent landowner building houses that would spoil their view
HUMPHREY v ROGERS (2017)
QBD (Slade J) 23/11/2017