By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
A group of residents in Upper Norwood are determined to use a 100-year-old deed clause to fight a development in their street.
More than 100 people gathered at Downsview Methodist Church in Upper Norwood to discuss a plan for legal action against a developer.
Hambridge Homes has already started work on a block of nine flats on the site of a bungalow in Downsview Road.
But locals are optimistic that they can fight the developer through the courts thanks to a restrictive covenant – a clause in a property deed.
This document dating back to 1927 was written by the original landowner William Ingram and is part of the property deeds of the 40 homes in the road off Beulah Hill.
It reads: “Detached private or professional houses only shall be erected on the land. Not more than one house shall be erected upon the said land.”
A meeting on Monday night (August 16) was led by neighbours Caroline Fenech and Ian Fleming who called on their neighbours to support a legal challenge to the block of flats already under construction at number 19.
For the first stage, they expect to need £10,000 but if legal proceedings go any further the group could be looking at up to £70,000.
The group already has around £3,000 pledged through individual donations and an online fundraiser – £500 of this was pledged in the half hour following the meeting.
Speaking to the packed church hall, Ian said: “Hambridge Homes is behaving like a playground bully who is bigger, stronger and tougher.
“They know they should be going to court to have the covenant changed but they haven’t.
“They have decided to just plough ahead regardless, they don’t think we have the money to take them to court.
“My view is that we have a reasonable chance of winning against Hambridge Homes.”
The small group of residents leading the campaign has already been in touch with a lawyer to talk about next steps.
Caroline, who has lived in the road for 25 years lives next door to the approved development and is concerned that it will set a precedent for more of the same in the street.
She said: “If other houses are granted permission we are going to have more lorries and the risk of subsidence.
“There is pollution at the moment, there are so many lorries coming in and out of our road on a daily basis.
“I am doing this because I care for our road I don’t want to see it destroyed by overpowering buildings.
“If we can protect our covenant we can stop other developments going through.”
The pair claim also that residents of the road have been offered 30 per cent over value of their homes by developers keen to build flats in the road.
Hambridge Homes declined to comment.