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

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 7 Aug 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
Bartholomew - Your Question:
My neighbour had plans approve for a single rear extension on one side of his house but is building it on the other side that is next to my garden. Furthermore I'm confident it is possibly for business puroses (beauty salon). What can I do as this may effect the drainage in my garden and definitely the light and sun into the garden area?

Our Response:
Contact your planning department and report it. If it does not conform to the plans they can prevent it proceeding.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Aug-17 @ 2:50 PM
Girlnextdoor - Your Question:
I have moved into an old property. I have found out the property next door has a room above my property in what should be a shared void. My title deeds do not show this. This has been in place for more than thirty years. Can I do anything about this.

Our Response:
Did your survey not highlight this? Was it pointed out by your conveyancing solicitor? We think you need to seek legal advice on this one sorry.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Aug-17 @ 11:29 AM
My neighbour had plans approve for a single rear extension on one side of his house but is building it on the other side that is next to my garden. Furthermore I'm confident it is possibly for business puroses(beauty salon). What can I do as this may effect the drainage in my garden and definitely the light and sun into the garden area?
Bartholomew - 7-Aug-17 @ 8:15 PM
I have moved into an old property. I have found out the property next door has a room above my property in what should be a shared void. My title deeds do not show this. This has been in place for more than thirty years. Can I do anything about this.
Girlnextdoor - 5-Aug-17 @ 4:02 PM
Friendly face - Your Question:
Hello, I live in a terraced house and my neighbour has a one storey extension that has a window that looks directly into our garden. The building itself also reduces the amount of light that we get into our garden and dining room.We are currently in the middle of putting up a new garden fence at the legal height of 2metres but wanted to go higher in front of our neighbours window to gain privacy. Where do we stand on this?She has objected saying she will lose light through that window however whilst doing our garden we have removed a large bush which has been there for many years and so even if we did go higher with our fence she would still get more light than before. Also the window that looks into our garden is not the only light source to her extension. There are also 2 windows, a door and a roof light to the building.Please can you let me know if her need for light is more highly valued than our need for privacy? Would we need to submit planning permission for a higher fence in front of her window? Many thanks for any help

Our Response:
Yes you usually need planning permission for any fence higher than 2m at the rear of a property. On the basis that your neighbour's window overlooks your garden - we assume it's a side window so we're surprised this was allowed planning permission (often the recommendation for side windows/extensions is for opaque or frosted windows). Speak to your planning officer for advice. If it's refused, you may have to resort to strategic planting again.
ProblemNeighbours - 31-Jul-17 @ 11:16 AM
Hello, I live in a terraced house and my neighbour has a one storey extension that has a window that looks directly into our garden. The building itself also reduces the amount of light that we get into our garden and dining room. We are currently in the middle of putting up a new garden fence at the legal height of 2metres but wanted to go higher in front of our neighbours window to gain privacy. Where do we stand on this? She has objected saying she will lose light through that window however whilst doing our garden we have removed a large bush which has been there for many years and so even if we did go higher with our fence she would still get more light than before. Also the window that looks into our garden is not the only light source to her extension. There are also 2 windows, a door and a roof light to the building. Please can you let me know if her need for light is more highly valued than our need for privacy? Would we need to submit planning permission for a higher fence in front of her window? Many thanks for any help
Friendly face - 27-Jul-17 @ 12:13 PM
Yasmine - Your Question:
My neighbour built an extension in back garden which has a wall blocking light going into our living room, he has also built 5inches over our side and we received no letter from council for planning requests what can we do?

Our Response:
Firstly complain to the planning department if the development required a neighbour consultation. If the neighbour has built on your land, you will need to take legal action via the courts to get them to remove it.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Jul-17 @ 12:46 PM
My neighbour built an extension in back garden which has a wall blocking light going into our living room, he has also built 5inches over our side and we received no letter from council for planning requests what can we do?
Yasmine - 2-Jul-17 @ 1:46 AM
hella - Your Question:
I have just brought a new build three months ago and our neighbours are building a two storey extension which means two windows will be directly facing our garden. They're permission was granted in 2015 when our house wasn't built and I have read the permission which states the extension should not invade neighbours privacy which it didnt at the time as our house wasnt built then but now it does invade our privacy. Is there anything I can do? Please help.

Our Response:
When you bought your house did your solicitor not draw this to your intention? Does the planning documentation detail specific neighbours?
ProblemNeighbours - 30-May-17 @ 12:49 PM
I have just brought a new build three months ago and our neighbours are building a two storey extension which means two windows will be directly facing our garden. They're permission was granted in 2015 when our house wasn't built and i have read the permission which states the extension should not invade neighbours privacy which it didnt at the time as our house wasnt built then but now it does invade our privacy. Is there anything i can do? Please help.
hella - 27-May-17 @ 6:17 PM
Jackal - Your Question:
We have recently moved into a detached house and our neighbours have a wooden structure which is actually attached to our wall, we have since found out it is their smoking shelter and we can hear them talking from our living room. We have heard them switching a light on and off and can smell the smoke when we are in the garden. It is like living in a semi detached house.We are not sure how long this shelter has been there as the previous owner is not being very helpful. Are they allowed to use our outside wall to attach their structure if they had permission from the previous owner?

Our Response:
Your neighbours should not have anything attached to your wall. You may be within your rights to ask them to remove it and to construct a free-standing shelter. Seek advice from a solicitor first.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-May-17 @ 12:34 PM
We have recently moved into a detached house and our neighbours have a wooden structure which is actually attached to our wall, we have since found out it is their smoking shelter and we can hear them talking from our living room. We have heard them switching a light on and off and can smell the smoke when we are in the garden. It is like living in a semi detached house. We are not sure how long this shelter has been there as the previous owner is not being very helpful. Are they allowed to use our outside wall to attach their structure if they had permission from the previous owner?
Jackal - 2-May-17 @ 9:26 PM
I live in a semi and my neighbour has been building an extension for 9 years. It still isn't finished. We both have a one story rear extension that has a shared flat roof. His part of the extension is being changed to a pitched roof. Firstly he will need to use the same building materials that both houses currently have. As he is doing the building work himself I'm not sure that he will. Does he have to have my consent? Secondly if I were to sell my house before he completed the work would it affect the value of my property?
Carole - 29-Apr-17 @ 4:14 PM
We've just moved into a property. Our next door neighbour has built a 6ft wall and topped it with a 6ft fence to create a decked area and also erected a huge metal shed. It is right up to the pavement and completely blocks the view out of one side of our bay window. I know he hasn't applied for planning. Will he know it's me if I complain to the council?
Shoelover - 24-Apr-17 @ 6:59 PM
There is land next to my property that is about to be built on, the people building the property have moved into a caravan which has been place right next to my fence and they over look my property, we have no privacy. What are our rights on this matter.
Tony - 21-Apr-17 @ 4:07 PM
Magster - Your Question:
Hi, we live in the side of a hill surrounded mainly by fields. At the top of the hill behind our house, a neighbour has used huge digging equipment to remove tons of earth, build a major size road and put in place massive containers (like shipping ones). He has had a 24 hour nightclub party once two years ago. There has been non stop noise from the diggers and earth moving equipment. He has sought and been granted planning permission for equestrian facilities. But this is a pretence to disguise what he is doing. He has access to his property via a minor back road, and has installed security gates, big no entry signs and security cameras. He has also put in 3 phase electricity power. Our local planning department do not return our calls or let us know what they are doing to help.

Our Response:
Your planning department is the place to turn to first. If they are not returning your calls, complain to your local councillor or MP about the problem and ask them if they can address it with your council on your behalf.
ProblemNeighbours - 18-Apr-17 @ 2:09 PM
Hi, we live in the side of a hill surrounded mainly by fields. At the top of the hill behind our house, a neighbour has used huge digging equipment to remove tons of earth, build a major size road and put in place massive containers (like shipping ones). He has had a 24 hour nightclub party once two years ago.There has been non stop noise from the diggers and earth moving equipment.He has sought and been granted planning permission for equestrian facilities.But this is a pretence to disguise what he is doing.He has access to his property via a minor back road, and has installed security gates, big no entry signs and security cameras.He has also put in 3 phase electricity power.. Our local planning department do not return our calls or let us know what they are doing to help..
Magster - 16-Apr-17 @ 9:51 AM
Teena Caine - Your Question:
My previous neighbour had a garage turned into a room, but I received no paperwork asking my permission, I didn't think anything of it untill recently my new neighbour has become quite noisey & has complained about the noise from my side.I feel like I should have been asked permission for the previous people to build onto my wall & people have said they should have.Please can you tell me if I can do anything.

Our Response:
Did the original neighbour actually apply for planning permission? Maybe they did it without permission? The best thing to do would becontact the planning department and find out. If it was applied for, you can ask why you weren't consulted. If it wasn't, you can ask what action they can take retrospectively.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:33 PM
My previous neighbour had a garage turned into a room, but I received no paperwork asking my permission, I didn't think anything of it untill recently my new neighbour has become quite noisey & has complained about the noise from my side. I feel like I should have been asked permission for the previous people to build onto my wall & people have said they should have. Please can you tell me if I can do anything.
Teena Caine - 22-Mar-17 @ 8:01 PM
My neighbour at the back has errected a wooden building the length of his garden 40ft and is roughly a foot taller than the perimeter fence and touching the perimeter fence would planning permission be required for this
Bella - 23-Feb-17 @ 2:20 PM
Neighbours were granted planning permission for an extension to the rear of their property. The internal layout shows a large open plan living space on the ground floor. Externally the building appears to be as per the planning application but internally they have not opened up the ground floor and instead have created a further two bedrooms in what should be a three bedroom house on the plans. They have moved tenants in, 6 adults, and the noise is unbearable every single night. Can they create more bedrooms without an alteration to the originally submitted plans?
AnnieT - 18-Feb-17 @ 10:26 PM
Hi I'm really concerned about what avenues my family and I can go through if any at all. Last year we had a new neighbour move in, it is business women she owns a shop and uses her garage as a storing facility. Ever so often a huge truck pulls up and off loads things overnight and blocks the road and entrance to our home. We have a pan handle house and her house is directly in front of ours. Last year she sent someone with a paper to sign saying she is going to put up a building. We refused to sign and asked that she come over and speak directly with us but she never arrived.Today they started building.They are putting up a double story building a foot from the boundary line . It will mean our drive way will be totally unseen which will be extremely dangerous , we will not be able to view the road etc from our house either and also we know that this will effect the value of our home drastically. The people in the building will be able to view directly into our two main bedrooms.Also our lives are at risk because she will be using the bottom to store things for her shop which will eventually attract more crime. The lady never informed us or ever came back with plans or anything . What can I do?
Larissa - 9-Feb-17 @ 3:07 PM
Cassie - Your Question:
Our neighbours were granted planning permission for an extension and an increased ridge height. This would give them 3 Windows directly overlooking our home and garden. The planning granted was changed to specify that the Windows had to be obscure and non opening. However they have fitted clear and fully opening windows. They said that they would ignore the planning conditions and they have?

Our Response:
Report this to your planning authority, they have the power to enforce the conditions associated with any planning permission granted.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Feb-17 @ 11:29 AM
Our neighbours were granted planning permission for an extension and an increased ridge height. This would give them 3 Windows directly overlooking our home and garden. The planning granted was changed to specify that the Windows had to be obscure and non opening. However they have fitted clear and fully opening windows. They said that they would ignore the planning conditions and they have?
Cassie - 3-Feb-17 @ 4:37 PM
My neighbour has erected a garden shed about 8x12 ft and approx 9 ft tall abutting my fence. The shed is 6 inches from the boundary fence and restricted my view. As far as I'm aware he has no permission. I have tried discussion re moving it or re siting it further from the boundary I.e one metre. is he within his right or can I take some redress?
dave - 23-Jan-17 @ 6:01 PM
lanecol - Your Question:
We live in a small residential cul de sac on the outskirts of a kent village. In the field next to us the local borough council granted planning for a large developement of saleable houses and affordable housing. The affordable housing part of apartments runs along the full side length of our garden where our conservatory is. Exactly opposite our conservatory there has been a two story apartment block built appox 3 meters from our boundary with a juliette balcony and two windows. The juliette balcony is the living area of the apartment which is the room most used and it is looking straight into our once private conservatory. the rest of our garden is overlooked by kitchen, hallway and bedroom windows. There is not one area of our garden that is not now overlooked. We have tried to fight this but were told that the council did not feel that the impact on us would be great enough to refuse the application. The planners have now also reduced the amount of planting that was first submitted and agreed to less than half which will mean there will be no screening put in place for a large part of our boundary. Are they really allowed to do this? I thought that people were protected from being overlooked by living rooms? Also can they decide to change planing plans that are agreed and given permission and reduce by half? Is there anywhere we can go for advice which is not going to be of a huge cost to us as we just cannot afford lawyers etc. I have been in touch with the builders and council but they are not forthcoming, I have also contacted my local MP and they are trying to help but again not with much luck. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

Our Response:
Once permission has been granted and assuming any subsequent changes were officially approved, there's not much you can do really. If the original plans have not been adhered to you can make a formal complaint to the planning authority. Other than that, some strategic planting might be your only solution.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Jan-17 @ 11:41 AM
We live in a small residential cul de sac on the outskirts of a kent village. In the field next to us the local borough council granted planning for a large developement of saleable houses and affordable housing. The affordable housing part of apartments runs along the full side length of our garden where our conservatory is. Exactly opposite our conservatory there has been a two story apartment block built appox 3 meters from our boundary with a juliette balcony and two windows. The juliette balcony is the living area of the apartment which is the room most used and it is looking straight into our once private conservatory. the rest of our garden is overlooked by kitchen, hallway and bedroom windows. There is not one area of our garden that is not now overlooked. We have tried to fight this but were told that the council did not feel that the impact on us would be great enough to refuse the application. The planners have now also reduced the amount of planting that was first submitted and agreed to less than half which will mean there will be no screening put in place for a large part of our boundary. Are they really allowed to do this? I thought that people were protected from being overlooked by living rooms? Also can they decide to change planing plans that are agreed and given permission and reduce by half? Is there anywhere we can go for advice which is not going to be of a huge cost to us as we just cannot afford lawyers etc. I have been in touch with the builders and council but they are not forthcoming, I have also contacted my local MP and they are trying to help but again not with much luck. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
lanecol - 5-Jan-17 @ 12:36 PM
lou - Your Question:
Hi I live in a semi detached bungalow the neubours are doing extension on my boundary but have not had planning permission they have removed my concrete posts and panels without asking. This is a supporting wall at the end of property will they have to place a steel girder through my property even the bricks they are using are dark grey and the rest of the orginal bricks are red it is half way through the extension

Our Response:
Ask them to stop if they are (a) trespassing (b) causing criminal damage to your property. If they refuse you may need to consider legal action. Check also with the planning department (noting that not all extensions need planning permission).
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Dec-16 @ 12:10 PM
Hi I live in a semi detached bungalow the neubours are doing extension on my boundary but have not had planning permission they have removed my concrete posts and panels without asking. This is a supporting wall at the end of property will they have to place a steel girder through my property even the bricks they are using are dark grey and the rest of the orginal bricks are red it is half way through the extension
lou - 5-Dec-16 @ 4:20 PM
Warty- Your Question:
Hi my neighbours are using their drive to renovate horse transport vehicles. Is the legal? They've got that many vehicles on the drive their own car is parked half on the end or their drive n the rest over the public pavement. Please advise on what can be done thanks

Our Response:
This depends on whether there are any local restrictions on running a commerical business from a residential property...your planning office should be the first place to try. As for the vehicles blocking the pavement, if this is causing an obstruction, forcing pedestrians into the road, then your local police will be able to take action.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Dec-16 @ 12:54 PM
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