Landlord’s refusal was reasonable

Posted: 7th December 2012

A landlord’s refusal to consent to the carrying out of piling works in preparation for a proposed basement development at a central London home was justified by reason of the additional disruption that would be caused to neighbours by the project, a High Court judge has ruled.

houseThe freehold owner of the property, Constance Long Term Holdings Limited, had obtained planning consent from Westminster City Council for below and above-ground modernisation of the house in Chester Row, London, SW1. However, due to a restrictive covenant, the consent of the Grosvenor Estate was also required before the works could proceed.

The estate granted permission for the above-ground works, but refused it for the subterranean proposals on grounds that they would cause ‘significant nuisance to the neighbours and nearby residents’ and would be ‘likely to damage neighbouring properties’. In particular, Constance was refused consent to carry out piling works - a prerequisite for any future basement extension.

The company’s lawyers argued at the Technology and Construction Court that consent for the piling works had been ‘unreasonably refused’ by the estate. It was said that the works were essential to ‘future proof’ the property and to keep open the option of developing its basement at some later date.

However, ruling in favour of the estate, Mr Justice Ramsey said that the piling works were not ‘necessary’ in furtherance of the project for which consent had in fact been granted. Although expressing ‘some sympathy’ for Constance, he said that the estate had been entitled to withhold consent due the significant additional disruption to neighbours that the piling works would cause in terms of dust, noise and time taken to complete the project.