A number of Fulshaw Park residents have discovered a Restrictive Covenant which they believe prevents development from taking place on the field west of Alderley Road.
In November 2017, Royal London submitted two planning applications to Cheshire East Council for homes at its site on Alderley Road. The first application is for 120 homes on the northern part of the campus site and the second is for up to 60 homes on land opposite the Royal London Campus, to the west of Alderley Road.
The Royal London site (including land to the west of Alderley Road) is in the Cheshire East Local Plan as a strategic site for employment use, a hotel and residential development. The 4.45 hectares site, west of Alderley Road, is owned by Royal London and was recently removed from the Green Belt after its inclusion in the Local Plan with an allocation of up to 75 dwellings.
However, 15 homeowners whose properties back onto the field believe any development of that land would be illegal because there is a Restrictive Covenant pertaining to their properties that does not permit any developments on the field, which has to remain an arable field.
They have taken interim legal advice regarding the covenant, which was put in place in the 1860s. They are currently awaiting feedback from a specialist solicitor but we understand his first impression was that they have a good case which is strengthened by the fact that the covenant was cited in a sale in the 1930's - so it is not just some obsolete historical clause.
Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) have written to Cheshire East Council and Tatton MP Esther McVey regarding the Restrictive Covenant and its potential impact on Royal London's plans to develop the land (Planning application 17/5837M).
Councillor Dave Jefferay said "This is a very exciting turn of events and we (RoW) are supporting the residents of Fulshaw Park wherever we can. It would be fantastic after having all their comments and concerns ignored by Cheshire East Council for so long, if Wilmslow's residents are able to save this very important bit of land at one of the main gateways into Wilmslow.
"It is somewhat concerning though that it has gone this far without being raised as a risk for the Cheshire East local plan because Royal London through their own due diligence must have been aware of these covenants and that they could jeopardise the deliverability of this site and therefore undermine the local plan strategy. RoW would also be very interested to hear from anyone living east of Alderley Road (i.e. Harefield Drive, Whitehall Close or Paxford Place) who have a similar covenant which could potentially prevent development on the main Royal London site. We are aware of at least one house on Harefield Drive which has a restrictive covenant and the owner is currently seeking legal advice."
Manuel Golding of Residents of Wilmslow said "Whilst all concerned appreciate a covenant is not part of the planning process, our request to CEC to postpone any further discussions on the application and to withdraw it from the forthcoming Strategic Planning Board (SPB) hearing is designed to save the tax payers money (officials to be paid, councillors time wasting on a superfluous agenda item). The time for a SPB debate should be after the legal issues have been cleared. It makes sense in this era of ever increasing CEC tax payers money wastage."
He added "What we find quite astonishing is the part Royal London has played in the Restrictive Covenant thus far. It surely cannot claim it had no knowledge of the Restrictive Covenant, after all it did purchase the site not that many years ago and with its large legal team in situ must have/should have been fully aware. So, why the silence from Royal London over the period it was happily talking to CE about cashing in on this vital green belt field? And whilst on the theme of silence, it must be beyond realisation that a company of such experience in land brokering, as HOW Planning is, didn't ask questions of its paymaster regarding any inhibitions to development on the west field. Again, why?
Manuel continued "By the way, recent purchasers of houses bordering the field had been alerted by their conveyancing solicitors that their properties are subject to a restrictive covenant. And Royal London did not know?"
Updated: 5pm Friday, 26th January.
A spokesperson for Royal London said "Royal London has received several enquiries about restrictive covenants from owners of properties close to its land west of Alderley Road in Wilmslow. Royal London is preparing replies to every party, which will be sent soon."