The Land Commissioner has made a ruling in a dispute over a proposed housing development on the former Farmhill estate in Douglas.

Hartford Homes secured planning consent in November 2021 to build 12 homes on land to the rear of Bix House on Farmhill Lane (20/01531/B).

The plan would involve the felling of 155 trees in the back garden on Bix House.

Neighbours in three homes in adjoining Farmhill Park appealed and the appeal is still in progress.

The objectors said they were assured at the time they brought their properties that a covenant existed on all plots, including Bix House, which prevented more than one house being built.

Now Land Commissioner Alan Gough has ruled that this restriction on building no longer exists.

Hartford Homes had referred the case to the Commissioner to establish whether Bix House could be registered free of the restrictive covenant.

The covenant in question dated back to 1988 when the property was sold by Fuchsia Homes Ltd to a Peter Dawson.

It stipulated there was a restriction on the building on the property of more than one dwelling house.

Identical provisions were contained in the conveyances when Fuchsia sold the three properties on Farmhill Park. 

But hopes by the objectors to Hartford’s plans that they could cite the covenant to block the development have been dashed.

By a deed of conveyance dated March 1990 between Fuchsia Homes and Healeycroft Limited the benefit of the covenants contained in the conveyances was transferred to Healeycroft.

And by a deed of release dated December 2021 made between Healeycroft and Hartford the covenants, including the restriction on building on the land, were released.

This was filed at the Deeds Registry in January 2023 and therefore the building restriction had been cancelled before Hartford applied for first registration of Bix House in April 2023.

My Gough said: ‘I am therefore satisfied that at the time of the application for first registration in April 2023 the building restriction covenant was no longer enforceable as it did not exist.

‘The Land Registrar can be satisfied in my view that the building restriction covenant relied on by the objectors does not presently exist.’

Ian Gillings, a director of Healeycroft and formerly a director of Fuchsia Homes, which was dissolved in 1988, had sworn an affidavit saying that the right to enforce the restrictive covenant did not pass to the purchaser, and remained with Fuchsia.

Fuchsia also retained the right to modify, waive or release the restrictive covenant.

The Commissioner ordered that the Land Registrar may register the Bix House title as a first registration free from any notice of the covenant imposing a building restriction.

‘There is now no extant enforceable covenant, let alone one enforceable at the instance of the objectors,’ he ruled.