Allotments are immensely precious to those who tend them. However, one High Court case showed that the special protection that they enjoy against development must sometimes give way under the relentless pressure for new housing.
Heavy investment in Internet-based businesses has resulted in the establishment of powerful trading positions in many fields of endeavour. However, in one important test case, the impact of such developments on competition in the online property sales market will be analysed by a specialist tribunal.
Rumours can have a grave impact on businesses and, where the source is an official one, they can be particularly damaging. The point was illustrated by a case in which the owner of a property management firm launched defamation proceedings against a local authority and one of its officers, claiming to be the victim of a whispering campaign.
Money often changes hands between life partners on the basis of trust – but one case in which a woman was left holding nothing but a disputed IOU in respect of £175,000 she claimed to have lent her husband showed how important it is to keep proper records and seek formal legal advice.
Restrictive covenants that can place serious constraints on property owners’ use of their land lurk in many old title deeds and it often needs a professional eye to detect them. In one case, however, a woman succeeded in modifying one such covenant which stood in the way of her residential development plans.
A couple found out the hard way why land conveyancing is a job for professionals when they ended up marooned in their bungalow, without any right of access to water or electricity, following a dispute with their neighbours.
In an important decision which addressed the balance to be struck between green belt and housing land allocation policies, the Court of Appeal backed plans for a substantial mixed-use development, including 200 new homes, on a 33.6 hectare site formerly owned by the Government.
Flooding risks are an increasingly important consideration for planners and have proved the nemesis of many a development proposal. However, a High Court case which opened the way for construction of homes on a site which had been prone to inundation in the past showed that such concerns are not insurmountable.
The division of landed estates into smaller units is often productive of disputes which can simmer on for years. In one case which illustrated the point to a tee, timeshare owners had to go to the High Court in order to establish their right to free use of a golf course and other leisure facilities on neighbouring land.
Professional advice is always necessary when entering into important transactions and one case clearly revealed the serious consequences of failing to seek it. An elderly couple’s transfer of their home to their son was undone by a judge because they had not obtained an independent valuation before going through with the deal.
In an unusual case upon which the future of a crumbling Victorian pier depended, the High Court has given important guidance on the extent to which the homes of those who are declared bankrupt are protected from their creditors.
Planning decisions are not statutes and judges will usually make allowances for less than perfect wording. However, in one case a developer’s hopes of building 400 new homes on the outskirts of a northern city were boosted when the High Court spotted a potentially crucial flaw in a decision to refuse planning consent.
The image of country dwellers up in arms at the prospect of housing developments is a powerful one. However, in one case, landowners intent on building 79 new homes on the edge of a West Sussex village have overcome objectors’ complaints that the site might be needed for the expansion of a local school.
Planning applications often engage many competing interests and maintaining public confidence in the process can be a minefield for decision-makers. In one case, a housing development was blocked by the High Court on grounds that a councillor whose vote proved decisive gave the appearance of bias.
Local authorities are under a duty to make plans to meet the need for new homes in their areas and if they fail to do so, their ability to resist developments that they view as inappropriate can be seriously compromised.
Some neighbours are friendlier than others and, if you feel that your rights are being trampled upon, a good lawyer can help you. In one case, an equestrian couple who were harassed by a farmer, who flouted their right of way across his land, won an injunction and thousands of pounds in damages.
Homeowners have a right to live in reasonable peace and the courts have all the powers required to ensure that their tranquillity is respected. In one case that proved the point, the High Court took urgent steps to end the nuisance of illegal high-performance vehicle racing close to a suburban housing estate.
Traveller encampments are not always popular with neighbouring landowners, but one High Court case has underlined the overarching aim of planning policy that travellers should be fairly and equally treated and their traditionally nomadic way of life respected.
Property owners who let out their homes on a short-term basis, using Airbnb or other websites, should take very careful note of a tribunal’s ruling that a long leaseholder who advertised for temporary occupants of her flat breached the terms of her lease.
Everyone has a right to live in daylight and, in one case, the High Court overturned a residential planning permission after objectors complained that the development would put an adjoining area of land, used by primary school pupils as an outdoor classroom and play area, in the shade.
Leases are not just pieces of paper and wise tenants always seek legal advice so that they really understand what they are signing up to. In one case which strikingly made that point, a long leaseholder ended up in danger of losing his property after his installation of a new boiler involved cutting through an exterior wall.
The pressing need for more housing in many parts of the country has in some ways eased the path of would-be developers. In one case, a company’s persistence paid off when its hopes of constructing more than 170 new homes in a rural area were boosted by a High Court ruling.
In a striking example of the heat which planning disputes can generate, residential developers who viewed themselves as ‘luckless victims’ of an over-zealous local authority managed to fight off a High Court bid for an injunction against them.
If you object to planning proposals in your area, it is essential to get legal advice straight away or you could forfeit any legal rights that you may have. In one case, two householders suffered exactly that fate because they delayed voicing their opposition to a housing development in the green belt.
Defiance of planning laws does not go unpunished and the courts will not relent until compliance is achieved. In one case, a farmer who built a mock Tudor castle in the green belt without planning consent was handed a three-month suspended jail term for his repeated failure to demolish it.
The Government has confirmed that the right to change buildings from office use to residential use without the need to obtain planning permission, which was due to expire in May 2016, is to be continued.
What is a house? That would appear to be a simple question, but it has taxed judges for decades. However, in a decision which will assist thousands of tenants to acquire the freehold of their premises, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a shop with a flat above is, indeed, a house.
In a case which underlined the importance of high-calibre conveyancing, residents of a 17th century mansion which had been partitioned into smaller dwellings ended up in dispute a generation later over ownership of an attic room which was no bigger than a standard garden shed.
The appearance of neighbourhoods deeply matters to residents and local authorities have the power to compulsorily purchase derelict eyesores – however, the cost of doing so can be punitive amidst a galloping property market.