Objector Fails to Block Basement Extension Plans

September 26, 2013

Objector Fails to Block Basement Extension Plans

A long leaseholder (a company) has failed in a High Court attempt to block neighbouring property owners’ plans for a substantial basement extension, comprising a swimming pool, play room and wine cellars. The Court dismissed arguments that the claimant was entitled to an interim injunction to protect the ‘quiet enjoyment’ of its property.

The company had sought the injunction to restrain The Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust Limited from granting consent for the development. As well as having responsibility for the maintenance and preservation of the character and amenities of the suburb, the Trust, which is a registered charity, was the claimant company’s landlord under a 999-year lease.

It was argued that, were it to approve the development, the Trust would be in breach of its obligations under the lease to ensure the claimant’s quiet enjoyment of its property. However, in dismissing the injunction application, the Court noted that it had not been claimed that the Trust had acted, or was about to act, in breach of the High Court-approved scheme of management by which it was created in 1974.

The Court observed that, were the ‘reversionary interest’ (the ultimate freehold title) in the claimant company’s property vested in a local authority, the landlord would not be acting in breach of the lease if it granted planning permission for a development on neighbouring land, even if that would substantially interfere with the claimant’s quiet enjoyment of its property.

The claimant company had also expressed anxiety that the proposed development site, which was on the borders of Hampstead Heath, was close to a geologically sensitive boundary and that the underground works could cause seepage and ground water movement affecting the structural integrity of neighbouring homes, as well as leaching moisture from their gardens.

The Court was unmoved and allowed the development to proceed.