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What to do if you Think a Neighbour is Contravening Planning Regulations

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 24 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Contravening Planning Penalties Planning

With all due respect to our neighbours, we all need to be aware of any planning permission they might want to submit if they’re intending on making any major structural additions to their property, or if they are planning on using their property for a purpose other than what it was originally intended for.

It doesn’t matter how well you get on with your neighbours, planning consent is something which, if obtained, can have a fundamental effect on your enjoyment of your own property. This might include things like the reduction of direct sunlight you receive as a result of new buildings, and there are also issues about your right to privacy.

Alternatively, they may be looking to convert their property in some way for business or commercial use which could have a direct effect on your home life. Assuming that planning permission has been granted, however, then you do have the right to object if you think that your neighbour has failed to comply with the terms of the planning permission agreement.

When Is Planning Permission Needed?

Planning permission is usually needed for the following, although this list is not exhaustive:

  • Building or adding an extension(s) to a property which will affect the external appearance of the building.
  • When you want to divide off part of a property to be used as a separate home, or you want to put a caravan on your land to be used as a home for somebody else.
  • When you want to use your home (or part of it) for business or commercial use.

How Will I Know if my Neighbour has Contravened Planning Regulations?

Firstly, any planning application which is submitted requires the planning department of your local authority to write to all the neighbouring residences which might be affected by the plans. You have the right to inspect those plans and to get copies for yourself. You can also appeal against a planning application, although that does not necessarily mean that your objections will be upheld.

However, assuming that planning permission has been granted, it’s important that you remain alert as to how any proposed development or use of the permission which has been granted is complied with. If you suspect that your neighbour may have failed to comply with everything contained within what was agreed, you should notify your local authority’s planning department at the earliest opportunity.

Obviously, some contravention of what was agreed might be more visibly obvious than other aspects, although the planning department themselves will also have a vested interest in ensuring that compliance is met with completely.

Failure to Comply with the Planning Permission

The council can enforce proceedings against people who have contravened the planning permission which they have been granted in the form of a Planning Contravention Notice. Severe financial penalties can also be imposed and your neighbour can be told to restore the property to its previous state at their own cost, even if that means demolishing a completely new building or structure if it does not comply with what was agreed to in the drawings of the plans.

It’s also important to remember that, in addition to the planning permission, any structural changes will also have to meet the Building Regulations which, although often interlinked with planning permission, are entirely separate regulations which must also be adhered to.

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We are thinking about constructing a dorma extension into our loft space and live in a semi-detached property where our neighbors have completed one of there own. We have had a building company out to have a look and discussed our proposals with and they were concerned that our neighbours dorma was built right up the the boundary line of our property (centre of the shared chimney) and they had concerns that's it should be back on there side a required distance to comply with building and fire safety regulations!!! Is there a required distance that the dorma should be from my chimney breast and if so what must I do to also go ahead with having my own built. Where and who can I contact to find out if the correct permission, inspections and drawings that they must have followed and passed to ensure all building and safety regulations/legislations have been adhered to.
AB - 24-Jun-18 @ 8:10 PM
jc - Your Question:
A building round the corner from my property has three businesses operating from it, one being a garage.When planning permission was sought I raised objection that it would take up limited parking space we already had. I was told that would not happen, as they were not allowed to keep vehicles from the garage on the street.They have and over the years it has got worse, leaving vehicles parked up for weeks at a time.I used to ask them to move them and they would, but now deny they have parked them even though I have them on cctv doing so.Who do I need to contact to try get it resolved.? Environmental or planning as I am being the run around by the local authority.if I get them moved I think the staff from the other businesses will just use any parking it frees up.I have already sold my car due to the hassle of parking but have my van for work and now can't get that parked due to the business taking the spaces.

Our Response:
If "no parking the vehicles relating to the business" was a condition of the planning consent, then you should go back to the planning department to say the conditions are being breached.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Jun-18 @ 2:38 PM
KD - Your Question:
We moved into our semi detached new build home about 2 years ago now and our neighbours have decided to build a conservatory at the back of their house which will be connected to the back of our house due to the layout of our houses would planning permission be needed for this or not

Our Response:
Planning permission is not always needed for conservatories - see here for details of the conditions. Not a planning issue, but more a matter of law would be them attaching anything to your wall. They will need your permission, before they can go ahead and do this.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Jun-18 @ 12:24 PM
A building round the corner from my property has three businesses operating from it, one being a garage. When planning permission was sought I raised objection that it would take up limited parking space we already had. I was told that would not happen, as they were not allowed tokeep vehicles from the garage onthe street. They have and over the years it has got worse, leaving vehicles parked up for weeks at a time. I used to ask them to move them and they would, but now deny they have parked them even though I have them on cctv doing so. Who do I need to contact to try get it resolved..? Environmental or planning as I am being the run around by the local authority. if I get them moved I think the staff from the other businesses will just use any parking it frees up. I have already sold my car due to the hassle of parking but have my van for work and now can't get that parked due to the business taking the spaces.
jc - 21-Jun-18 @ 6:37 PM
We moved into our semi detached new build home about 2 years ago now and our neighbours have decided to build a conservatory at the back of their house which will be connected to the back of our house due to the layout of our houses would planning permission be needed for this or not
KD - 21-Jun-18 @ 12:18 PM
Goopy - Your Question:
Approximately 18 years ago we had an extension built which included a party wall With a view to my neighbor extending at a later date, according to the plans drawn up we both agreed to the party wall, on the plans it states that a cavity wall had to be built either side of the party wall of which we carried out, according to the plans, my neighbor then extended his side approximately 16 years ago, we have just recently found out that they haven’t built a cavity wall off the party wall as stated, and would like to know what our position is with regards to to this matter ?

Our Response:
Sorry what's your question? Do you want them to put a cavity wall in retrospectively?
ProblemNeighbours - 20-Jun-18 @ 11:59 AM
Approximately 18 years ago we had an extension built which included a party wall With a view to my neighbor extending at a later date, according to the plans drawn up we both agreed to the party wall, on the plans it states that a cavity wall had to be built either side of the party wall of which we carried out, according to the plans, my neighbor then extended his side approximately 16 years ago, we have just recently found out that they haven’t built a cavity wall off the party wall as stated, and would like to know what our position is with regards to to this matter ?
Goopy - 16-Jun-18 @ 5:08 PM
My neighbour applied for planning permission for an extension to the existing property. It soon became apparent he was building a separate dwelling. I reported this to the local authority. He had breached the contract. He then submitted a separate dwelling application; the council granted. He has converted my semi detached house into a terraced house. Even though he breached the original contract; the council granted him the planning permission on this new build without any penalties to him. Don’t know where i stand; I just think it’s wrong.
Someone - 12-Jun-18 @ 6:48 PM
Spartan - Your Question:
Our neighbour obtained Planning permission for an eco build on his 2 acre plot. He sold the original house to us and split the land. We now share a driveway access which he owns.We were told that the eco house and would be "buried into the earth" and is a downsize. Nearly 2 years on its not finished but is huge and completly overlooks our house and land.The neighbours son is an architech who designed the property, however he and his father have fallen out and not spoken in a year. We believe this may be something to do with the method of the build.Is there anything we can do not to ensure the building is to spec?

Our Response:
We assume you checked the planning permission details when you purchased the property? If the building is not as described in the original application, talk to your planning department - they should be able to enforce this.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Jun-18 @ 3:38 PM
Our neighbour obtained Planning permission for an eco build on his 2 acre plot. He sold the original house to us and split the land. We now share a driveway access which he owns. We were told that the eco house and would be "buried into the earth" and is a downsize. Nearly 2 years on its not finished but is huge and completly overlooks our house and land. The neighbours son is an architech who designed the property, however he and his father have fallen out and not spoken in a year. We believe this may be something to do with the method of the build. Is there anything we can do not to ensure the building is to spec?
Spartan - 11-Jun-18 @ 12:19 PM
Devongirl - Your Question:
Our neighbours have completely renovated the house next door to us. We objected to a high, new window overlooking us. They submitted a revised application showing it obscured. The local council planning officer said that was as good as we would get as they could have it under permitted development anyway. We therefore didn’t object the second time but asked for it to be obscured and non opening. They have conditional planning where the window has to be obscured and no opening unless it is over 1.7m. They moved the window up (not in line with the others as shown in planning) so it met the 1.7m metre rule & have put in a big top opening. This looks into every main room in our house & is as bad as if it wasn’t obscured. The noise & loss of privacy is much worse than expected & we have also been told that in an AONB permitted development doesn’t apply. We wish we had objected the second time & fought the new window harder. Is there anything we can do now? We don’t think the change in heights is significant enough to be a planning breach. Thank you.

Our Response:
Even though you don't think it constitutes a breach, it's definitely worth talking to your planning officer. Tell them/show you how your privacy has been affected they may be willing to take action.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Jun-18 @ 2:41 PM
Andy67 - Your Question:
I need some advice regarding a combi boiler overflow pipe my neighbour has coming from the side of his house, the pipe comes out onto my garage roof (approx. 6 inches from the roof surface). I know he had a heating engineer doing some work earlier this year but I had no idea this pipe was placed over my garage roof. Neither the engineer or neighbour asked my permission for the pipe to be placed where it is and it looks like it was positioned where they thought I wouldn't notice, out of sight of my landing window. I also didn't hear anyone on my roof, so I am guessing it was done when I had gone out. The pipe is very close to my flat roof surface and has been angled to point down directly onto my roof. If water starts to pour out of it my roof will flood as it's flat. What are my rights regarding this please?

Our Response:
If the pipe wasn't there previously and you're concerned, you could take legal action but first talk to the neighbour, advise him that the pipe is effectively trepassing into your air space and you're also worried about the effect on your roof if the boiler becomes faulty and the pipe is used.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Jun-18 @ 12:32 PM
Our neighbours have completely renovated the house next door to us. We objected to a high, new window overlooking us. They submitted a revised application showing it obscured. The local council planning officer said that was as good as we would get as they could have it under permitted development anyway. We therefore didn’t object the second time but asked for it to be obscured and non opening. They have conditional planning where the window has to be obscured and no opening unless it is over 1.7m. They moved the window up (not in line with the others as shown in planning) so it met the 1.7m metre rule & have put in a big top opening. This looks into every main room in our house & is as bad as if it wasn’t obscured. The noise & loss of privacy is much worse than expected & we have also been told that in an AONB permitted development doesn’t apply. We wish we had objected the second time & fought the new window harder. Is there anything we can do now? We don’t think the change in heights is significant enough to be a planning breach. Thank you.
Devongirl - 5-Jun-18 @ 7:46 PM
I need some advice regarding a combi boiler overflow pipe my neighbour has coming from the side of his house, the pipe comes out onto my garage roof (approx. 6 inches from the roof surface). I know he had a heating engineer doing some work earlier this year but I had no idea this pipe was placed over my garage roof. Neither the engineer or neighbour asked my permission for the pipe to be placed where it is and it looks like it was positioned where they thought I wouldn't notice, out of sight of my landing window. I also didn't hear anyone on my roof, so I am guessing it was done when I had gone out. The pipe is very close to my flat roof surface and has been angled to point down directly onto my roof. If water starts to pour out of it my roof will flood as it's flat. What are my rights regarding this please?
Andy67 - 5-Jun-18 @ 1:33 PM
Niceneighbour

Our Response:
We think you've posted your queston twice as it's come up again. We answered this yesterday please see below. Please wait a few days before re-posting if there is no response, thanks.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Jun-18 @ 11:50 AM
Niceneighbour - Your Question:
My neighbours extension is the boundary of my garden so no wall or fence it is their garage. On the back of the garage there is a frosted glass window approx the size of a normal kitchen window that looks directly into our garden. Ok it a frosted glass window with a net curtain but in the summer they open the top window to keep their garage cool (when the window is open it opens into our land it's that close) and this is really intrusive.i do not know if they had planning permission for this window. I doubt it as an elderly woman lived here before us who I just think went along with it and they bought some land of her garden for a silly price a few years ago. Ok we have lived here 2.5 years and have not done anything but it's getting very frustrating now. I would love to send you a picture as I am sure you would be amazed. When we viewed the house it had an old green wooden frame window and when we moved in there was a new white upvc window installed.Any advice would be appreciated.Thank you

Our Response:
Some suggestions:
Talk to your planning officer to see whether there were any conditions attached to any planning permissions needed for the extension when it was built.
Talk to your neighbour and see if there's anything they are willing to do.
Ask for legal advice. If the window really opens on to your property, this is trespassing into your airspace and you may be able to do something about it
A solicitor will also be able to confirm your rights regarding privacy
Erect a trellis or similar so that your privacy is protected
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Jun-18 @ 2:43 PM
My neighbours extension is the boundary of my garden so no wall or fence it is their garage. On the back of the garage there is a frosted glass window approx the size of a normal kitchen window that looks directly into our garden. Ok it a frosted glass window with a net curtain but in the summer they open the top window to keep their garage cool (when the window is openit opens into our land it's that close) and this is really intrusive.i do not know if they had planning permission for this window. I doubt it as an elderly woman lived here before us who I just think went along with it and they bought some land of her garden for a silly price a few years ago. Ok we have lived here 2.5 years and have not done anythingbut it's getting very frustrating now. I would love to send you a picture as I am sure you would be amazed. When we viewed the house it had an old green wooden frame window and when we moved in there was a new white upvc window installed. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you
Niceneighbour - 4-Jun-18 @ 12:23 PM
My neighbours extension is the boundary of my garden so no wall or fence it is their garage. On the back of the garage there is a frosted glass window approx the size of a normal kitchen window that looks directly into our garden. Ok it a frosted glass window with a net curtain but in the summer they open the top window to keep their garage cool (when the window is openit opens into our land it's that close) and this is really intrusive.i do not know if they had planning permission for this window. I doubt it as an elderly woman lived here before us who I just think went along with it and they bought some land of her garden for a silly price a few years ago. Ok we have lived here 2.5 years and have not done anythingbut it's getting very frustrating now. I would love to send you a picture as I am sure you would be amazed. When we viewed the house it had an old green wooden frame window and when we moved in there was a new white upvc window installed. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you
Niceneighbour - 3-Jun-18 @ 7:29 PM
gertie - Your Question:
My brothers neighbour has applied for planning permission for a huge two storey extension to his house. Trouble is it would be built right up against the gable end off my brothers house. His central heating boiler flue projects out of the same gable end. Neither would my brother be able to install cavity wall insulation which he had planned to do. Would his neighbour be allowed to do this and what is custom and practice these days with regarding minimum space between two detached houses.

Our Response:
There are no set limits between houses. Your brother should talk to both your neighbour and the planning officer to see if any conditions should be attached to planning permission or perhaps this would be a valid object to the consent?
ProblemNeighbours - 1-Jun-18 @ 12:05 PM
My brothers neighbour has applied for planning permission for a huge two storeyextension to his house. Trouble is it would be built right up against the gable end off my brothers house. His central heating boiler flue projects out of the same gable end. Neither would my brother be able to install cavity wall insulation which he had planned to do. Would his neighbour be allowed to do this and what is custom and practice these days with regarding minimum space between two detached houses.
gertie - 31-May-18 @ 8:15 AM
Ds- Your Question:
Students living by are noisy & often have more people visit & stay than there are rooms , I doubt the landlord has( hmo) house multiple occupants. certificate? Could this be a way to stop the noisy students.? Where the landlord has to take duty of care for his neighbors.

Our Response:
Your planning department will be able to tell you whether there is HMO permission on the building. If the noise is often excessive and at unsociable hours, contact your environmental health officer.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-May-18 @ 2:00 PM
Students living by are noisy & often have more people visit & stay than there are rooms , I doubt the landlord has( hmo) house multiple occupants. certificate? Could this be a way to stop the noisy students .? Where the landlord has to take duty of care for his neighbors.
Ds - 21-May-18 @ 5:49 PM
Puppy - Your Question:
Hello my next door neighbour owns her own house and within a year has put up rear fencing 2 metres, flood lights at the back which come on as soon as I open my door, cctv to watch me coming in and out of my home.also a new porch. The last month has put up fening at the front 6 ft high, I complained to the local council who were rude and said they can do what they want and told me to stop complainning by them, and if you own your home you can break planning rules and not pay a penny, but if your housing association you have to pay. This is discrimination by sefton council and I recorded them of which I will take to my local consellor as they can go to the chairman.i know that this is discrimantion and not been treated equal. If you have money you can do what you want and if you dont then you have no rights. Is this fair or not

Our Response:
Note that rear fencing and a front porch may fall under permitted development so your neighbour may not be breaking any rules - check with your planning office if you're unsure.As a Housing Association tenant yourself, there may be additional rules that you must follow as part of your tenancy agreement.
ProblemNeighbours - 21-May-18 @ 3:53 PM
Hello my next door neighbour owns her own house and within a year has put up rear fencing 2 metres, flood lights at the back which come on as soon as i open my door, cctv to watch me coming in and out of my home.also a new porch. The last month has put up fening at the front 6 ft high, i complained to the local council who were rude and said they can do what they want and told me to stop complainning by them, and if you own your home you can break planning rules and not pay a penny, but if your housing association you have to pay. This is discrimination by sefton council and i recorded them of which i will take to my local consellor as they can go to the chairman.i know that this is discrimantion and not been treated equal. If you have money you can do what you want and if you dont then you have no rights. Is this fair or not
Puppy - 21-May-18 @ 12:28 PM
Freckles - Your Question:
Our neighbour is building a massive extension they have deviated away from the plans. They should have a flat roof at the back and it is now slipped. Secondly they should be building a garage but have placed a window halfway up instead of a door, which leads me to believe it is going to be an extra room! Also we believe they are going to be slightly over onto our boundary! We have spoken to the builder who frankly was extremely rude and insisted that his friend whom happens to be the building inspector has said that they are not, and that we are wrong. Please can someone explain what we need to do apparently our LA said it is a civil matter, but I am unsure if they know about the deviations and the fact that the building inspector is a friend of the builder from a different county? Help much appreciated.

Our Response:
Your neighbour may be acting with the limits of permitted development as far as planning laws are concerned, so your planning department will not be interested in that but you could always contact them to find out. The boundary issue is a civil matter which you may need to take to the courts if you cannot negotiate a resolution with your neighbour.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-May-18 @ 12:22 PM
Our neighbour is building a massive extension they have deviated away from the plans. They should have a flat roof at the back and it is now slipped. Secondly they should be building a garage but have placed a window halfway up instead of a door, which leads me to believe it is going to be an extra room! Also we believe they are going to be slightly over onto our boundary! We have spoken to the builder who frankly was extremely rude and insisted that his friend whom happens to be the building inspector has said that they are not, and that we are wrong. Please can someone explain what we need to do apparently our LA said it is a civil matter, but I am unsure if they know about the deviations and the fact that the building inspector is a friend of the builder from a different county? Help much appreciated.
Freckles - 11-May-18 @ 7:05 PM
Regarding "What to do if you think a neighbour is contravening planning regulations" article I have a neighbour who has had planning permission granted for a large extension (including side garage) to his house which does not enjoy permitted development rights. Builders have commenced and are clearly building a habitable room, nota garage. I have objected to building control/planning deptwho state that because a further, invalid, application has been made for change of use from garage to habitable room they are not going to take any action. I suspect this application was submitted only after my complaint and I suspect planning department may have given the nod to the neighbour and stated that planning permission will be granted so that it is OK to go ahead with a habitable room. Surely this is flat wrong. Surely you can only build to what you have permission for and, if you want to build something else (eg change of use) you apply for it and wait the outcome of the planning permission. The correct course of action for any planning officer worth his salt, surely, is to issue an enforcement notice (Planning Contravention Notice) because extension is not being built to the plans that have been granted. Otherwise, anyone can build anything, anywhere, anytime and if pulled up by the council can apply for planning permission and council will doubtless grant it. Because they always do. I consider my local council to be endemically and systemically corrupt. Reason permitted development rights were withdrawn was because council considered plot to be fully developed. Now council allow near doubling of floor space. Disgraceful. Any comments?
tmbrian - 1-May-18 @ 6:11 PM
Fourlegs - Your Question:
My nieghbour has erected a single story flat roof extension at the back of his house ( which is fine). My objection is a 5 foot black chimney on top of the roof, it looks like something from a concentration camp. Its a total eye sore. Have I any rights about it.

Our Response:
Talk to your planning officer. Permission is not usually needed for chimneys that are no higher than 1 metre above the highest part of the roof but were are not sure if this refers to the roof of the new part of the building (i.e the extension) or the existing building.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Apr-18 @ 12:08 PM
My nieghbour has erected a single story flat roof extension at the back of his house ( which is fine) . My objection is a 5 foot black chimney on top of the roof, it looks like something from a concentration camp. Its a total eye sore. Have i any rights about it.
Fourlegs - 28-Apr-18 @ 3:05 PM
Shazabang - Your Question:
Our next door neighbour has just built a new decking over their old patio. They have raised the height of the decking so high, they are waist height to our 6 ft fence and in another area it is from knee height. They have taken away all our privacy. They can see directly into my kitchen, our dining room and there is no privacy at all in our garden. They are known to hold many late loud outdoor parties and we have already had a taste of this and had strangers looking directly into our home last weekend. Am I within my rights to make a complaint? The invasion of our space makes me feel sick.

Our Response:
Complain to your planning department if the decking is more than 30cm above the ground as that would require planning permission according to the UK Planning Portal
ProblemNeighbours - 25-Apr-18 @ 2:20 PM
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