Letter of concern from member
I am writing concerning a proposed development by Aventier of our neighbours property at the above address. The proposal is to demolish the house and erect a block of nine flats. Apparently these developers also have their eyes on about 30 other developments in the area!?
Winchelsey Rise is a small road leading to Croham Hurst Woods and is a quiet road of individual family homes full of various ages with likeminded ideas of how we like to live and bring up our children.
The thought that our peace and way of life could be shattered by this developer has left us all in shock.
We have been looking into and talking to various people, including Cllr Maria Gatland, our MP Chris Philp and Richard Plant of Styles, Howard & Williams and apparently nothing can be done until a Planning Application has been tendered.
The one thing (we hope) that is in our favour is that there are Restrictive Covenants on the land by the Whitgift Foundation, an example of one:-
“The Property shall not be used for any purpose other than as one private dwelling house in the occupation of one household only”. The worry is though that they might try to ‘buy’ and overcome the Covenants from Whitgift.
With this in mind, Richard Plant advised that the developers would apply for an Indemnity Policy pre-Planning to offset any losses and that if we can write to Aventier explaining that we are all against the proposed development and would enforce the Covenants through the Whitgift Foundation and also through our own individual ones should they go ahead with the proposal, then any insurance company would not issue an Indemnity Policy.
Obviously we are very new to this game and fall upon yourselves for guidance as to how to proceed and whether any such correspondence would hold more sway coming from yourselves?
Kind Regards, Gillian Burman, 3 Winchelsey Rise, C H
For whatever reason we have not looked to use covenants to stop development in our area. So I spoke this evening to Gerald Meredith-Smith (02086541008) the chairman of Whitgift Foundation Estate Residents Association – because I guessed if anyone would know about enforcing these covenants he would. And he does. Here are the bullet points.
– There is an approved application for development of flats along the Addiscombe Road.
– This is the 1st application for flats within the WFE.
– They have raised £60,000 to fight it.
– They are going to wait for construction to start – ie digging the 1st foundation – before they file.
– They have engaged solicitor Mark Oakley of Judge and Priestly
– They have not engaged a barrister yet.
– The top barristers in this matter are Faulke and Chambers
– They believe the Whitgift Foundation cannot waive the covenants.
– However the WF seem unlikely to enforce them themselves
– Gerry has maps going back to 1887 showing that the WFE is a “building scheme”
– If you can prove there is a “building scheme”, all houses within the scheme are covered by a ruling on one of the buildings within the scheme.
– There was a change in the rules covering “building schemes” for houses built after 1925 – cant remember exactly the distinction that Gerry explained
– Even if you cant prove a scheme (We agreed it was less likely to be proven – but not impossible – on our side of the park) you can still take individual actions against individual breaches of covenants.
– They are not initially going down the “building scheme” route to contest the covenants but are going to fund the neighbour of 114 Addiscombe Road contest and then if they win that they will go down the “building scheme route”
– If we were going to go down the legal route he was happy for us to use Judge and Priestly.
So my recommendation is first to look at the covenants covering 1 Winchelsey Rise and see whether they are the same as 114 Addiscombe Road (not exactly sure whether 114 was the neighbor or the developer but you can see it on the Councils Planning database). If the covenants are similar then we can hope that 114 Addiscombe goes ahead first.
Either way we can alert Aventia of 114 Addiscombe issue and its relevance to 1WR The might want to wait to see what happens.
On the bigger picture, we have discussed covenants in the past but have felt that the cat is out of the bag already on this side of the park and we have concentrated on trying to make sure what has been developed is fitting – as much as it possible can be – with the existing housing. We are having some – if limited – success.
I guess I have a vested interest here as we live in an infill ourselves. We are at 27 Castlemaine Avenue which is in half the original garden of 35 Castlemaine Avenue. 35 Castlemaine Avenue is a 1920 house so I presume it has the covenant. If so it was ignored when 27 Castlemaine Avenue was originally built in 1980. Incidentially when we knocked 27 down and rebuilt, Styles, Howard & Williams told us we were part of the foundation and needed to pay them a fee. I said no because no clause regarding the foundation had been transferred onto my deeds.
There could be an argument to say that Manor Way, Croham Manor Road going up the hill , Winchelsea and Bankside are a “building scheme” as there is similarity there.
I did not discuss this issue of indemnity policies with Gerry and the advice given by SH&W. Gerry has a pretty dim view of SH&W desire to help residents. However there might be an issue if you tell the developer you are going to fight an application and then do not.
There is plenty to think about.