High court ruling ends three-year Chichester dispute

A high court judge has ruled that a retired boat broker is allowed to build on land next to one of the UK’s oldest marinas, even though it will ruin the sea views of a neighbour.

Since they bought their house in 1987, Michael and Janet Rees, have only been separated from Birdham Pool in Chichester Harbour by a field that a covenant stated could only be used ‘for the grazing of animals’.

But when Brian Peters, 70, bought the meadow in 2007, he argued that he should be allowed to build on it.

Mr and Mrs Rees objected, claiming that building work would wipe hundreds of thousands of pounds off the value of their £3.5million home.

However yesterday Judge Roger Kaye QC agreed with Mr Peters and forced Mr and Mrs Rees to pay his £60,000 legal bills, while refusing them the right of appeal.

Giving his ruling, Judge Kaye said: ‘I can well understand why they might wish to protect their amenity and the benefit to their house.

‘The question that arises is whether they are entitled to do so.

‘I have reached the conclusion, not without some sympathy for Mr and Mrs Rees, who clearly have a beautiful house and a not inconsiderable clear view, that the covenant is no longer enforceable.’

The row erupted when Mr Peters, who has lived in an adjacent property since 1990, bought the meadow, which leads down to Chichester Harbour.

Nicholas Isaac, Mr and Mrs Rees’ barrister, said both houses and the meadow were owned by a single owner before they were divided up and sold in 1957.

He said that the original owner created the covenant to ensure that the meadow would only be used for grazing animals unless the owners of Mr and Mrs Rees’ house, Farne House, gave permission.

However it is not thought that Mr Peters has any immediate plans to build on the land.

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