In 1895 fifty three people purchased three farms consisting of 215 acres of land to establish a housing estate. They named the estate after the farms: The Painshawfield, Batt House and Birches Nook Estate.
They recognised from the outset that if building works or an increase of density of housing on the Estate were permitted to occur fettered only by regulation by a Local Authority the unique character and amenity of this new area would gradually diminish to eventual extinction. They formulated two simple regulations to protect the Estate from such development:-
- Nobody would ever be able to own land on the estate without being subject to a deed containing restrictions.
- Nobody would ever be able to build on the estate without permission of an Estate Committee elected by and constituted of owners.
These regulations were incorporated in a Deed of Mutual Covenants. This deed has ever since preserved and safeguarded the character and amenity of the Estate. The principal protective factor is indubitably that the Deed of Mutual Covenants allows the Estate Committee to maintain a comparatively very low density of housing on the Estate. Under the governance of the Estate Committee’s density policy, which takes precedence over that of Northumberland County Council, there are now 301 houses on the estate. The density policy of the Northumberland County Council would by comparison permit 870 houses. Because maintenance of the low density of housing is crucial to protection of the Estate’s character it is inevitable that with each passing decade the Estate Committee has heeded and adopted the views of the Covenantors and become increasingly reluctant to permit additional houses to be built on the Estate.
The unifying theme in the history of the Painshawfield, Batt House and Birches Nook Estate is the simple objective of the Covenantors to determine for themselves the character of the environment in which they live. The Estate Committee is the instrument by which that objective is achieved. It was through the wishes of the Covenantors that the Deed of Mutual Covenants was conceived and applied. The Deed is stronger now than it was in1895 having been in the intervening years analysed by lawyers and tested and proved in our Courts of Law. Its democratic application by the Covenantors through their successive elected Estate Committees has built up a body of local law governing and protecting the environment of the Estate to the manifest benefit of those who are have the good fortune to dwell there.