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Some years ago the Parish Council bought the Parish Hall. In the conveyance to the council there was a covenant which gave the church the right to use the parish hall on Sundays. Due to covid the council has closed the parish hall to all users and is denying the church access to the parish hall. They claim that the covid regulations take precedence over the church's rights under the conveyance. Do the covid regulations allow the council to deny third party's rights in this manner?
by (170 points)

3 Answers

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Best answer

The following Government guidance may answer your question:

Consequently, I do not see any reason why the PC could not reopen the hall on Sundays providing the guidance is adhered to at all times.

by (4.3k points)
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I think that even if all rules are adhered to inside the Hall it will really depend on pinch points when entering and leaving. Plus of course santising after each use. According to our local authority there must be a separate unresticted entrance and exit without pinch points which could create a huddle. Unless of course a single entrance is adequately wide enough to facilitate a cordoned off entrance and exit.
For instance we are in tier 2 and allowed to use the Parish Rooms for council business only but not public meetings due to pinch points and this despite having a separate fire exit. Whereas the Parish Hall is OK to use as that has a wide main access point as well as a couple of unrestricted secondary access/exit points. This is according to the main borough H&S guy who has carried risk assessments for our publicly accessed buildings.
+1 vote
I would suggest that any legislation will trump the covenant in this event.  The parish council are responsible for the hall and ensuring its Covid-secure compliance and therefore if they are stopping everyone from using the hall, they are not singling out the Church.  If there was an incident of Covid in the hall, they would be liable.  Clearly they have considered the safest option is to complete close the venue.
Surely the Church could meet in its own building anyway?  What would the church want to use the hall for?  If its for drinking tea or coffee after the service, that is banned by the legislation....
by (24.5k points)
Of course before coming to the conclusion of closing the hall the PC will have carried out the required risk assessment won't they? This can then form a backup to present to the Church showing their decision making on the matter and why they are refusing access. That is of course if they have done so and had it ratified at council.....hmmm?
I sense a sarcastic tone in your comment Mentorman :-) !!
That said, they may have done this - we certainly have undertaken risk assessments for our playground, hall and office and ratified them at council.  Some councils are acting correctly!
Me! sarcasm??? :-) Heaven forbid! Rather than sarcasm I would state an historical acceptance that the details are sometimes overlooked and this seems to be an instance where due diligence by the council would have given them the unquestioning tools to answer any criticism about closing the hall
0 votes

Covenants are not as set in stone as many seem to think but of course they are a legally binding agreements between two parties. Permanent or tempory easement of the restrictions or burdens they impose on one party can be agreed to by the other.

Terms of a covenants or even the entire covenant can also sometimes be circumnavigated by a lawyer especially if the covenant was inherited with the property having originally been agreed by previous parties. However it sounds like you (the present council) may have agreed to accept a new covenant so you could be pushing water uphill with a sieve trying to get out of a newish covenant with yourselves being one of the current signatories as the coventor.

But! .. your solicitor may have agreed with coventee's solicitor on the wording 'would not be unreasonably withheld' or similar; unreasonably being the key word and one that is often insisted on by a solicitor working for the coventor. So if you have not already done so it might be worth double checking the actually wording to see if it goes something like 'permission to use the hall will not be unreasonably withheld'. Nobody is likely to argue that not allowing use in the present situation is being unreasonable.

by (1.0k points)

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