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LA want to extort huge wad of cash for relaxing restrictive covenant

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Local authority hold a restrictive covenant over our property and land.

It says we can only use the land and buildings for agricultural and horticultural use, no fixing cars, no catteries or kennels, no cattle.

It is an ex-farm and as far as I am concerned, due to the asbestos on the barns and the state of the house, we paid a fair market price.


At the time, we didn't realise there were any restrictions but they asked what we were going to do with the place and so we got permission (email) several years ago to run our joinery business from the barn.


We now want to turn one part of the barn into a holiday let (it is literally two walls and no roof as the asbestos has had to be removed.

We got planning permission from the district council, but the county council who have benefit of the covenant are asking for a "consideration" of tens of thousands!

This is just to relax the covenant, not remove it.

We are surrounded by their agri. fields on 2 sides and a private property on the other.


I have an email from the council from the time we bought the house, saying that we can run the business from the barn.


Does the fact that we have planning permission and spent thousands on the planning fees, building control and all the materials to start work on the lets (no work has physically started), and that we have run our business from the property with their consent, mean we are in breach and they can take the pee with compensation?


i cannot see how they have lost any value on their adjoining fields, so are they trying to use the restriction as a clawback/overage?

Can they do this? 

We haven't got the money and can't continue the current business. 


Absolute headache and no clue to move sensibly forward with them.


Forgot to mention, neighbours also have ex-council farm and run businesses from there. The council said to remove theirs would be a 5th of the price.



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When you bought the property, what did your solicitor or conveyancer say about the restrictions?



Illegitimi non carborundum




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“At the time, we didn't realise there were any restrictions but they asked what we were going to do with the place”


As per HB’s post Did your conveyancer highlight the restrictions?

If not, you may be able to claim against them, reducing the total you’ll have to contribute.

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There were particulars on the back sheet of the sales blurb but the estate agents and solicitor never mentioned the importance of this, so we only glanced at it (in hindsight a totally naive and stupid thing to do).


During the sale the council asked our intentions and we told them we needed to run a joinery business, so we have an email saying they don’t have an issue with it - thought this covered us and they wouldn’t be added.


Solicitor, on the day of signing, went through the paperwork, skipped over a chunk saying we didn’t need to read it all as it was just the usual, and so we signed (again, in hindsight a stupid thing to do).

We have no proof of this so it would be his word against ours. 


The restrictions were only noticed when the paperwork came back from the Land Registry.

Been trying to get them off ever since...


We never would have bought the place if we had realised that we would have to go through this, the barns were essential for our job and livelihood now and in the future.

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You asked for (& got!, several years ago) permission to run a joinery business.


A holiday let is a significantly different class of business.

You mention neighbours have permission for their businesses too : are these more like joinery or more like holiday letting businesses?


Edited by BazzaS

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A museum and camping/caravanning. The wanted to also turn one of their barns into a holiday let.

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The covenat is nothing to do with local council, they can approve things they like and it is for you to get the necessary permissions as far as covenants go.


When did county council sell the property and who to?

If it was bought some time before you purchased it and was used in a way that breached the covenant you can claim dereliction.


It is common to take out indemnity insurance at the time of purchase to cover you for possible future claims, did you do this, either deliberately or by just nodding it through with solicitor?


what does the covenant say EXACTLY?

agricultural covenants are commonly worded in a way that allows you to keep a chicken and do what you want with the rest of the property


perhaps when you found out about this restriction you should have done your work and kept quiet for 6 years,

I have seen stables with lovely upstairs kitchens and bathrooms

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Agree with ericsbrother.

In my days i have done a lot of work in "stables" and "barns" to the spec of Manhattan's penthouses. 

But the owner kept a few chicken and on one occasion a sheep. 

Maybe it's not too late o go quiet for a few months and then carry on with your plans.

Remember that anything not visible from outside is extremely unlikely to attract any attention from the council.

And also enforcement departments have been cut to the bones, hence the wild west of extensions in all major towns.

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