Protected Covenant - should I pursue with Local Authority?

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    Protected Covenant - should I pursue with Local Authority?

    Hello everyone,

    First time posting here and very appreciative of any advice that can be offered.

    Our house was built in 2001 and we are the 3rd owners, purchasing it with no conveyancing issues in 2011. In 2017, we changed the use of our double garage into a playroom with a bathroom and on the advice of our builder, submitted a permitted development notice to our local authority. In hindsight, I am aware maybe we should have done that before work commenced, but my limited knowledge of building works led me to believe that changing the use of your garage was permitted without notifying your local authority. Not sure if it's worth mentioning but as part of the work, the garage door was removed and windows were installed, and externally they were the only changes. We were also visited several times throughout the works by a planning officer from the LA, and made changes where she felt necessary (e.g. increased thickness of insulation).

    On the very final day of the building work completing (genuinely as well, I couldn't make it up!), we received notice from the council that the permitted development was refused as in the original planning application for the house in 2011, there was a protected covenant stating that the garage must not be changed and must stay as a garage, for the reason that they did not want any additional cars parked on the road as a result of the house being built. So initially, the garage could have housed 1 car, then 1 car on the very short driveway. Now we can only have 1 car on the driveway and obviously none in the garage. In the decline, the LA said we would need to apply for full planning permission.

    At the time we spoke to a solicitor who said should we wish to sell at any time, we could obtain Indemnity insurance to cover any financials should the covenant be enforced and new owners have to change the use of the room back to a garage, but this would need to be 12 months after the works had completed. We had no intention of selling at that point, and a baby due in a few weeks so decided to do nothing.

    Roll forwards to Feb last year, 2 years after the build work completed and we decided to put our house on the market and move. We had a buyer lined up, explained the situation with the change of use of the garage and our solicitor had arranged indemnity insurance, which we were obviously happy to pay for, which covered them entirely - apparently their mortgage provider (HSBC) was also happy with this. However, their solicitor was adamant that it was a risky purchase, and our already nervous buyers (they had inherited a house many years ago but never actually purchased a house), were even more nervous and pulled out. This went on for weeks, was extremely stressful at the time as we were due to exchange on the house we were buying, the chain fell apart and we decided to stay put.

    We are now thinking of potentially marketing our house again in 12 months or so (market dependent!), but really would like to avoid the headache that we had previously. So my question is, should we approach the LA and ask them to review the protected covenant? I really don't want to do this, as I don't want to draw attention to the fact that they said no but the build was already done by that point, but I also want any future purchase to be as smooth sailing as possible. We also don't have any of the building certificates for the works carried out as I was too nervous to request for the planner to come back once the permitted development had been declined (although the request for these never came up from our buyers or their solicitor, so not actually sure if they're needed?). Or should we carry on as we were, be upfront with the agent again, arrange the Indemnity insurance and avoid any attention from the LA? The more I speak to people, the more I hear the insurance policies are very common, and I don't know if we were just unlucky with our buyers but I am aware if we were to ask the LA to review the covenant, this may take time, and also cost £££ so I wanted to make sure we have everything sorted before marketing again.

    Sorry for the long post but wanted to give the full background. If you're still awake after reading all of the above and are able to offer any advice, that would be much appreciated!

    Thank you

    #2
    Just to put the point beyond doubt, when you refer to "protected covenant" do you mean a planning condition imposed by the planning permission granted for the construction of the house?

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      #3
      Better to convert back to double garage. A bath in the garage is a no-go to mortgage lenders.

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