Residents hope covenant will restrict Royal London's development plans

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."

Residents of Wilmslow, Royal London


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Pete Taylor
Friday 26th January 2018 at 7:41 pm
Rather remarkable that Royal London has not made any contact whatsoever with those affected until the Press get involved, is it not?
Stephen Hughes
Friday 26th January 2018 at 9:00 pm
I too have written to Royal London but they haven’t had the courtesy to reply. Why are we wasting rate payers money on a planning application that may never go ahead ?
Roger Bagguley
Saturday 27th January 2018 at 10:45 am
Apparently you can get planning permission for a development on land you don't own. Once completed you cannot prevent essential access if this is across land you do own. It is all a matter for the Civil Courts. But it creates wealth which is essential to life in this crazy world we live in.

If you have a covenant preventing development of these lands then alert Royal London and the very best of luck.

It appears the matter is of no interest to Cheshire East. They don't own the land but took it out of the Green Belt in order to make it available for development. Not an illegal move but certainly a move likely to swell already fat legal coffers. Quite how this allocation can count towards committing houses towards a 5 year supply is just one of life's many mysteries. But it will become a very expensive exercise, afforded by Cheshire East tax payers, when developers start taking the council to appeal over lack of a five year supply.

Not a wise decision on the part of the council in taking the land out of the Green Belt in the first place.

As I remember all of these problems arising out of the Local Plan Process were repeatedly flagged up by Residents of Wilmslow (RoW), to the Council Officers, Ward Councillors and to Mr Pratt, the Government Inspector approving the Plan, but nobody seeking
gain from these kind of processes ever listens to common sense.
John Featherstone
Saturday 27th January 2018 at 6:30 pm
all boils down to money I have a copy of the covenant that the lacey green hall was on it was bought by st barts church Wilmslow in 1952 the owner let the church have it cheap for the use of a hall for the people of lacey green, if not a hall then the land could only be used for a rectory , vicarage or library ,it took all of three minutes for macc borough council to lift the covenant at the town hall only thing mentioned was HOW MUCH MONEY were the builders willing to pay to lift it you aint got much chance but good luck trying
Manuel Golding
Sunday 28th January 2018 at 1:16 pm
John Featherstone, if it is only down to money then Royal London may well have a mighty mega millions £s to pay RC holders. After all the field is/could well be worth millions to the current landowner who is possibly planning a mega deal to either develop itself or sell onto a building company.
On the other hand, the homeowners may value the open aspect from their homes of the adjoining field greater than RLs greed money.
Not everything in this world is down to money!
Sunday 28th January 2018 at 1:51 pm
Is this the site which in the pre-consultation and the Submission Version Local Plan (2014) was down to be "Open Space", which all of a sudden in 2016 in the new version of the Local Plan had plans for houses put in?
Pete Taylor
Sunday 28th January 2018 at 10:50 pm
Jackie, I have to admit it is all rather confusing; at one meeting the former CEC Leader, Michael Jones (sitting next to former Tatton MP George Osborne) stated that these (West of Alderley Road) arable fields, if removed from Green Belt protection, would be “even safer”, as they would be designated “protected green space”. Mr Osborne nodded all the way through Jones’s address, evidently. This puzzled quite a few of us at the time, as this designation did not seem to exist in English law; although it does in the USA.
Michael Jones, as we know, had something of an unfortunate end to his political career, the Police investigation is, reportedly, ongoing.
Michael Jones is on record as saying that “These (Adlington Road) fields will never be built on”. They were... and continue to be further developed.
I’m at something of a loss as to which, if any, of our elected representatives I should trust.
Mark Goldsmith
Monday 29th January 2018 at 10:42 am
Let's hope RL make a comment soon, so the residents can get some clarity.

However, given RL's duplicity in gaining outline planning permission ("do it or we leave Wilmslow! Okay, thank's for that but we are leaving anyway"), whatever they say should be taken with a big bucket load of salt.

These covenants give the residents a shot at stopping the West side of this development though to keep this open field into the town. A chance that RL and our incompetent Cheshire East councillors conspired to take away from them and the people of Wilmslow.

So let's hope the high court judges can do what CE is incapable of doing by saying NO to inappropriate developments

Cllr Mark Goldsmith (Residents of Wilmslow)
Martin Kitchin
Monday 29th January 2018 at 7:46 pm
Hello Mark,

Quite rightly you say :-

"So let's hope the high court judges can do what CE is incapable of doing by saying NO to inappropriate developments"

It seems at the moment Wilmslow is under siege from "inappropriate developments" (I'm thinking Summerfields Village & the threat from a certain superstore for one)

Is anybody drawing up a list of inappropriate developments, perhaps ?

Martin Kitchin