WERC Estate Covenants
THE ESTATE COVENANTS
The Wentworth Estate Act 1964 gives the Roads Committee the right to enforce the Estate covenants. This is a valuable power because it enables it, on behalf of the Residents, to ensure that the special character and amenities of the Estate are protected. It is exercisable jointly with Lindgray (Wentworth) Ltd. (the successor of Wentworth Estate Ltd.) but the latter delegates its power to the Committee, except where the Golf Courses are affected. Some Residents may possibly never read the covenants which affect their properties, so typical examples are set out below. The obligations on every property are not exactly the same, but the common thread is always respect for the rights of neighbours and the community as a whole.
Précis of Standard Form of Estate Covenants
1. Not to build more than one dwelling house on the land conveyed, together with garages and other outbuildings and, in many cases, an annexe or lodge for the use of the servant (or family) of the house owner.
This is the most important covenant. In some cases the deeds provide that there may be a servant’s lodge or cottage in addition to the main house. There are many examples of this on the estate, but they must remain in the same ownership as the main house. In some cases such accommodation is used for other members of the family (such as a granny flat) but letting as a commercial arrangement is not permitted.
2 No building to be used other than as a private residence (with outbuildings etc.) except that with prior consent from the Roads Committee, there may be carried on upon the premises the practice of a physician or surgeon or a learned or artistic profession.
The meaning of this is quite clear, running a business is not permitted, nor converting a house into an office. A dwelling must remain a dwelling. In modern terms it is of course acceptable for residents to operate their own private office from within their own homes for their personal and private affairs.
3. Not to commence any building (including a septic tank) or any substantial or structural external addition or alteration or modification thereto without the prior approval of the Roads Committee for the plans elevations and positions thereof, such approval not to be unreasonably withheld.
The planning sub-committee meets regularly to discuss all applications, the Committee accepts the right of the homeowner to develop, expand or renew property in accordance with the Planning Guidelines and provided the character of the Estate are safeguarded. This requirement is separate from the obligation to obtain Planning and building regulation permission from Runnymede Borough Council.
4. No privy, cesspool or septic tank to be constructed within 25ft of any boundary of the land.
5. No temporary building or structure to be erected or placed on the land except for use during construction of permanent buildings.
6. No sand or gravel to be removed from the premises or bricks clay or lime to be manufactured.
7. No hut, shed, caravan, house-on-wheels or other chattel adapted for use as a sleeping apartment to be erected on the land; no funfair apparatus and no hoardings or advertising signs to be erected on the land (except notices to let or sell); no rubbish or building materials to be stored on the land.
8. The owner to maintain fences along the boundaries of the land so marked on the plan; such fences only to be of post and wire not over 4 feet 6 inches in height with a hedge of suitable evergreen shrubs or beech; such hedge not to exceed 7 feet in height without the written consent of the adjoining owner(s).
Conceived many decades ago, this sensible provision has a lot to do with the atmosphere we now enjoy. The evergreen shrubs provide a leafy cover ensuring mutual privacy whilst avoiding the suburban appearance of other forms of demarcation. The Roads Committee accepts in many areas across the Estate the heights are now exceeded and residents expectation of privacy and screening has changed over the years, however the impact and affect on neighbouring properties is to be respected.
The Roads Committee relies on residents to respect each others needs and an agreement to be reached between themselves. A good way to establish dialogue is to consult when about to prune one’s own side of the hedge. Wooden fences or brick walls not more than 6ft high are normally not approved and will not be accepted across frontages of where the boundary abuts Roads Committee land or verge.
9. Not to fell any trees having a diameter of 9” or more at a height of 2 feet from the ground without the prior consent of the Roads Committee.
There is a constant need to care for the tree stocks on the Estate, and the Roads Committee is always ready to approve judicious felling in the interests of good management. There is a tendency by some, however, to love only those trees to be viewed in the gardens of others, with the landscape in the foreground nicely cleared so as to improve the view. If we all did it the effect would be disastrous, hence the need for this provision. The policy adopted is that permission to fell is not withheld where there is good reason, for example for over-aged, dying or dangerous trees, roots affecting buildings, establishment of lawns, thinning to admit more sunlight, groups of Cuppressus which have been allowed to become overbearing. Residents should apply to the Secretary or his Assistant who will arrange contact with the Committee Member concerned, who will visit the site by appointment.
10. Not to do or neglect to do or allow on the premises anything which is a nuisance, disturbance, annoyance, damage or injury to the adjoining premises (including the Estate roads) or which may tend to deteriorate the value of the Wentworth Estate or any part thereof.
The catch-all, you recognise it when it happens.
Remember that those who sit to consider your requests for permission under these covenants are volunteer members of the community. They begin with the strong presumption that you should have the right to improve your property as you see fit, subject only to the rights of others around you and the Estate as a whole. Furthermore, they are required under the Act of Parliament to behave at all times reasonably. They expect you to behave in the same way.