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Wrotham Park Estate v Parkside Homes [1974] 1 WLR 798

Property law – Restrictive covenants – Damages

Facts

The owner of an estate sold a parcel of land to a developer, with a covenant that the developer did not build on the land without the approval of the owner of the estate. The covenant was registered as a charge on the land under the Land Charges Act 1925, as a Class D charge. The developer built on the land around it but left an area undeveloped before the patch of land was sold to a local authority in 1955 and sold on again in 1971 with approved planning permission. The plaintiff issued an injunction to prevent the construction upon the land and the defendant proceeded to build on the land.

Issue

The court was required to establish two key points. The first was whether the restrictive covenant had passed with the land and was therefore enforceable by the plaintiff. The second was if the covenant was enforceable, whether damages could be claimed by the plaintiff as a result of the land being built upon. It was important for the court to consider the nature of the prohibition on the land and whether the benefit of the covenant could be identified.

Held

The covenant could be enforced as it was sufficiently defined and registered with the land. However, it would be difficult and unjust to demolish the roads and houses that had already been developed. Therefore, the court ordered that damages should be granted. In terms of measuring damages, the court held that the sum should equate to an amount that would have been able to reasonably relax the covenant.


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