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Neighbour’s Unwelcome Extension or Conservatory Causing Concern?

Are you in a dispute with your neighbour regarding their alterations, or concerned that their works may adversely affect you? My tips in these circumstances are set out below:



INVESTIGATE

Everyone’s Deeds are available online and are a matter of public record. Copies can be obtained via the government portal at:


For clarity order office copies of both yours and your neighbour’s title. Obtain a copy of the register and plan for both. Check that your neighbour is on his land and not encroaching on your property. Red edging in the filed plans will show each property boundary.

Depending upon the neighbour's building project you should review the information found here which explains what planning and building regulations are required. Government’s Planning Portal for Common Projects This website will help you to understand whether your neighbour's works appear to be in breach of Planning Permission and/or Building Regulations Consent. These are two different things.


For example, if their pavement or kerb is dropped then that would have required consent. Decking over 30 centimetres in height requires Building Regulations Consent. A loft or garage conversion into habitable accommodation requires Building Regulations Consent.


Another example would be Conservatories which require Planning Permission and Building Regulations when they exceed a certain square footage and height. If the Conservatory has plumbing or electrics then Building Regulations are needed. If they are not separated from the house by a door then Building Regulations are needed, and so on.



COMMUNICATE

Speak to your neighbour in the first instance. It is often better to discuss matters, and reach agreement, rather than immediately escalating matters as this may become adversarial.



ACTION

If this does not work, and you are being (or could be) adversely affected, you can lodge your written concerns with the Local Authority. This should be with both the Planning Permission and the Building Regulations departments. These are two separate departments and they do not necessarily liaise with each other so it is best you contact both.


You may want to mention, where applicable, that this NEW structural addition affects your right to light, access is affected or compromised and the alteration is causing property damage or drainage issues. You should explain and give as much detail as possible. Provide photographic evidence and it is a good idea to keep contemporaneous notes of any conversations with the neighbour and local authority.



LEGISLATION

The construction of a new building is likely to require both Planning Permission and Building Regulations Consent and part of the process would involve the Local Authority writing to neighbouring properties about the proposals.


The Local Authority have 4 years to take enforcement action for any breaches of Planning Permission. There is no strict time limit for breaches of Building Regulations Consent but once these are historic (approximately 20 years old) the Local Authority are unlikely to act. Having said that please bear in mind that the Local Authority can take an injunction out against you for serious breaches.



EXPERTS

Consider instructing a Chartered Surveyor who can attend at your property and can see the works and give you feedback. This is vital evidence you can rely on going forward.



FINALLY

If all else fails consider instructing a litigation or dispute resolution solicitor who can assist you in corresponding with the Local Authority and your neighbour.


You could also make contact with your local Councillor, or MP, expressing your concern and the lack of planning enforcement by your Local Authority (where applicable).


[NB: These are very general tips and suggestions and cannot be relied upon since I have NOT been to the property or seen your deeds or office copies. Accordingly, no guarantee as to success can be given. Please also remember that with any civil issue you MUST mitigate your losses]


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