Local residents and I continue to be very concerned about the indiscriminate way in which the council grants planning consents, often to destroy family homes and replace them with blocks of flats. The campaign for a Directly Elected Mayor of Croydon is one way to address this (the DEM would control the Local Plan and control the Borough’s largest developer, the destructive Brick by Brick, which is 100% owned by the council), but there is another avenue that may be helpful in the short term in some cases.
Restrictive Covenants are noted on the title deed of a property, and are conditions of sale often dating from when the property was first developed into a house decades ago (or even before). Restrictive Covenants are why there are no pubs in Sanderstead – an ecclesiastical seller of the land many years ago who disapproved of drinking added this as a Restrictive Covenant when they sold the land for development. In many parts of the Borough there are Restrictive Covenants saying that only one “dwelling house” may stand upon a plot. A block of flats is clearly multiple dwellings, breaching this covenant. Some areas don’t have Restrictive Covenants at all, but many do. You can find out by looking at the title deed of the property potentially to be developed, which can be obtained publicly online at the land registry at the link below (note this is the Government website; be careful not to use more expensive commercial imitations by mistake):
It costs £3 to download to the Title Register, and you search using the house number and postcode. The section “Charges register” of the title document tells you if there is a Restrictive Covenant.
In several parts of Croydon, even after planning has been granted, residents of neighbouring properties or local residents associations have got together seek to enforce the Restrictive Covenant to stop development. Enforcing a Restrictive Covenant is completely separate to the planning process, and can be done even after planning permission has been granted. Sometimes, just a firm letter from a lawyer to the developer is enough to get the developer to back off (especially where the developer has simply taken out an option and does not actually own the subject property); sometimes court action may be needed. Whether or not neighbours can enforce restrictive covenants is very situation-specific. It may depend on what exactly the covenant says and things like which property was originally sold first and if the covenant transferred to subsequent owners. It is quite a technical topic and legal advice is needed to work out if the Restrictive Covenant is enforceable or not. I am aware of two law firms who have assisted residents in this area. If you and your neighbours (or local residents association) would like to explore using a Restrictive Covenants to try to prevent development and think the subject property has such a Restrictive Covenant, these two fairly local law firms have acted for people recently and have had success in some instances:
Judge & Priestly (based in Bromley)
Contact name: Mark Oakley
Switchboard: 020 8290 0333
Firm website: www.judge-priestley.co.uk
Bennett Welch (based in Crystal Palace)
Contact name: Greg Randall
Switchboard: 020 8670 6141
Firm website: www.bennettwelch.com
Both know that I am publicising their details.
We should of course keep fighting each inappropriate application individually (two did get turned down recently) and campaign for a Directly Elected Mayor. But this approach of using RCs may help in some cases too and I wanted to let you know about it.