As a transactional lawyer advising developers, I understand why property owners feel fearful and apprehensive when it comes to restrictive covenants.
It’s usually because they are faced with a raft of obligations attached to land and buildings that can be notoriously difficult - and expensive - to get around.
A recent case in the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal has, however, shown that the chamber is prepared to be flexible where the modification of a restrictive covenant is in the public interest.
In the case (Millgate Developments Limited and another v Smith and another, Re: Exchange House, Woodlands Park Avenue, Maidenhead  UKUT 515 (LC)), land had been developed for social housing in contravention of a covenant not to develop.
Here the tribunal decided to modify the troublesome covenant on the basis that the loss of privacy to the owners of the land who benefited from it was outweighed by the public interest in making available social housing at a time of high demand.
Whilst the general message from the chamber is that it will not assist those who deliberately breach covenants, it is clear from the above case that exceptions will be made.
The case may provide a boost for developers, in particular those dealing with an element of social housing in their developments.
My advice to anyone looking at acquiring land for development is to ensure that legal advice is taken at an early stage to ascertain the existence and scope of any covenants affecting the land in question.
For advice on restrictive covenants, contact me on 0114 2521412 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.