We can consider ourselves fortunate that living in a western democracy we have many freedoms. Probably the one we guard most jealously is that of Freedom of Speech. It is enshrined in the very fabric of our society and is a fundamental principle of democracy.
But if you live in Feniton, you may be surprised at attempts to curtail that freedom.
At last night’s meeting in Feniton Primary School (https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/extraordinary-scenes-at-feniton-parish-council-meeting-last-night/), reference was made by a Feniton resident to the ‘gagging clause’.
The clause referred to is one which is found under Restrictive Covenants in the contract between developer Wainhomes and the new owners of their Winchester Park development, and the clause reads as follows:
Not to object to any future planning applications on adjacent land owned now or in the future owned by the Transferor.
Now … just pause and think about that for a second.
It is completely and utterly outrageous.
And what, precisely, is Wainhomes hoping to achieve by including that clause in their contract? Is this clause only placed on homes on this particular development, or is it a standard clause used across all Wainhomes’ developments?
Apparently, however, the practice is not unusual (see http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/relief-home-buyers-gagging-clause-4248977), but to the great relief of residents in this particular case, the clause was found to be not legally binding.
So if you live in Winchester Park in Feniton, you are perfectly free to comment on the latest application for 31 houses whether you wish to support the proposal or object to it.
That is your legal right.
During an interview with Wainhomes, their spokesman confirmed that:
“There is no “Gagging Clause” – all our properties are sold with a standard covenant not to object to further developments – this is standard across the development industry and is as far as I am aware used by all developers .
“However, I have never seen this covenant enforced and if someone wishes to object they are free to do so.”