Wimpey demolish 24 of their new homes as covenant comes up trumps

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Dec 22 18:38:53 GMT 2011

Housing giant bulldozes 24 brand new homes after 
building on land without planning permission
By Kerry Mcqueeney - Daily Mail - 22nd December 2011
Part of a brand new housing estate was bulldozed 
today after a housing giant was defeated by a 
band of residents in a landmark planning battle.
Developers Taylor Wimpey were forced to tear down 
24 properties which were built on protected historic land following a tribunal.
Taylor Wimpey began building 124 homes on the 
site in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, after buying 
the land for £11.5million in 2006.
However local residents claimed that a 1.8-acre 
corner of the site was subject to a historic 
covenant dating back to the 1930s which protects it from development.
Earlier this year they won a three-day Land 
Tribunal hearing which ordered the construction 
firm to knock down 24 properties.
Residents watched in delight as the houses were 
reduced to a pile of rubble today.
Malcolm Stennett, 72, chairman of Prestbury 
Parish Council, welcomed the move but criticised 
Taylor Wimpey for delaying the demolition work.
He said: 'It has taken the developer an 
inordinate amount of time to comply with the land 
tribunal decision, but this is a step towards the reinstatement of the land.'
Residents have been fighting to save the land 
since 2000 when it was earmarked as ‘developable’ 
by Tewkesbury Borough Council.
The authority held a public inquiry into the land 
in 2002, which backed up the council’s view and 
Taylor Wimpey was allowed to purchase the land.

Success: Campaigner Geoff Beardmore with video 
equipment he uses to film potential building 
sites that have had plans submitted to his local council

Crucially, it was their responsibility to ensure 
that the land was free from protective covenants 
before it began building the 124-home Noverton View estate.
But the land was protected by a covenant put in 
place when it was sold in 1936 by owner Henry 
Edward Ripley, who stipulated that nothing could 
be built on 1.8-acre area south of Mill Lane.
A group of around 30 residents launched legal 
action as soon as the company encroached on the protected land in 2007.
It was estimated that the development would cause 
their properties to lose up to £100,000 in value, 
with residents losing their views.
There were also fears about an increased flooding risk and traffic congestion.
The Land Tribunal hearing in Cirencester, 
Gloucestershire, in January heard how the 
developer had been aware of the covenant before it started building.
Speaking after the landmark ruling, Geoff 
Beardmore, who led the group of residents, said 
it was a David and Goliath victory.
He said: 'We did not seek confrontation with the 
developers and did everything possible to 
persuade them to respect the covenant.
'It is regrettable that we were forced to go all 
the way to the wire to obtain this result, but I 
hope it will give encouragement to other groups 
who are challenging inappropriate developments.
'This decision sends a clear message to all 
developers. They cannot ignore either restrictive 
covenants or the views of residents entitled to benefit from them.”'
The 24 part-built properties have now been 
reduced to a pile of rubble, with workers 
starting a fire to burn some of the wood cladding from the houses.
It is unclear what the site will now be used for, 
with residents hoping that it could be made into 
an allotment area with a children’s play park.
The plot of disputed land is now thought to be worth just £20,000.
Speaking at the time of the tribunal ruling, 
delighted resident John Foley, 76, added: 'It’s fantastic news.
'Hopefully this sends out a clear message that 
developers cannot just do whatever they want.'
Taylor Wimpey declined to comment on the 
demolition work yesterday - although it admitted 
it was 'disappointed' with the ruling in January.
It was unable to say how long the work would last for. 
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