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

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 18 Feb 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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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
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
Warty - 2-Dec-16 @ 9:54 AM
In the year 2000 previousneighbours next door built a single storey extension far bigger than planning permission plans showed. The structure takes half the light from my adjacent kitchen, which clearly was never supposed to. Now new plans bu new neighbours have been submitted to extend out the back of the same building so that all light will be taken from this kitchen window. Planning dept say the harm has already been done ( by the illegal extension) so losing the rest of my light is not enough "significant harm."Is there anything I can do to get this initial extension taken down or back to agreed size, and thus stopping the new application being viable?
Cazza - 27-Nov-16 @ 9:15 AM
We have competed some work on the house under permitted developmentioned rules however have now had an council enforcement officer call round as one neighbour has complained about the colour of the roof tiles and we have been advised to change all the tiles a. Do I have to and b. Can I ask who has complained
Maxine - 24-Nov-16 @ 6:36 PM
Julie - Your Question:
Our neighbours are building an extension. When they first started we called local authority who said under permitted development they did not need planning permission for one storey. So left it once the began building we realised it was going to affect a party wall and shared roof so rang council again. More insistent this time and spoke to someone in building control who said that they had no notification and would be doing building contravention visit and that when we had called before they should have been put through to them. I have been calling them for last few days to find out about visit but very difficult to get through to. Any advice about what we should do next? Surveyor about party wall? Solicitor as already started building - shel up already. And what powers will council have? Just want to protect my property.

Our Response:
Seek legal advice regarding the party wall situation - this is not the council's concern. The building control office should help regarding the extension itself. Permitted development does not mean the at Building Control Consent should not be sought. If building regs are not adhered to the council can order the demolition of the extension.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Nov-16 @ 2:16 PM
Our neighbours are building an extension. When they first started we called local authority who said under permitted development they did not need planning permission for one storey. So left it once the began building we realised it was going to affect a party wall and shared roof so rang council again. More insistent this time and spoke to someone in building control who said that they had no notification and would be doing building contravention visit and that when we had called before they should have been put through to them. I have been calling them for last few days to find out about visit but very difficult to get through to. Any advice about what we should do next? Surveyor about party wall? Solicitor as already started building - shel up already. And what powers will council have? Just want to protect my property.
Julie - 23-Nov-16 @ 8:16 PM
Hi.We live in a row of terraced houses with thin walls in terms of being able to hear next door, and vice versa. Our neighbour lived next door until a couple of years ago then moved out suddenly.Within a month and for the majority of weekends since, her house has been used for hen parties, reunions, birthdays,people coming to stay in our city to go to the races and so on. The people who stay are groups of adults who drink usually until the early hours, or come back to the house at the same time of night making noise. Our lives are becoming unbearable and the stress levels are unbelievable. There wasno notification from the council that this was happening. Is she allowed to do this, and if so, how do I see planning permission? Thanks. Mark
Mark - 17-Nov-16 @ 5:39 PM
Hi our neighbour( at the back of our garden ) has put up a wallin the corner ofthe garden , itsbreeze block ,he did this last year /year before saying it was to replace the fence that was old and battered and kept blowing down .We were not happy about it and told him so .but he went ahead and did it anyway .He now hasdecided to extend his shed at the back so itajoins the walland wants to store things in said shed . He is going to knock a door through from his shed .he has put perspex up on our side and it is on top of the walland a roof, he says its on his side but clearly comes over to ours . It is a mess to look at . Wehave tried talking to him , he laughsand has even shut the door in our face ! I dont think he got planning for thewall and we have asked the council to look into it. My concern is if we want to sell? help !
jog - 14-Nov-16 @ 3:09 PM
julie - Your Question:
My neighbours rent their house and as all our gardens slope its hard tobmake the most of them. They have a large brick wall which the top of is level with the top of the fence. They are on about building a decking area there. If they do then any seating on it will obviously be overlooking my decking area and into all of my garden. Have I any rights?

Our Response:
Not really. It's worth checking with your planning department as there are rules about decking platforms. You could consider some clever planting etc to screen your garden.
ProblemNeighbours - 1-Nov-16 @ 10:30 AM
My neighbours rent their house and as all our gardens slope its hard tobmake the most of them. They have a large brick wall which the top of is level with the top of the fence. They are on about building a decking area there. If they do then any seating on it will obviously be overlooking my decking area and into all of my garden. Have I any rights?
julie - 30-Oct-16 @ 11:59 AM
Our neighbours have recently made alterations to their home for business purposes, including a new business entrance on the side; as we live on slope (their house is higher than ours) a long platform was built for access. From this raised platform you can see straight into our back garden. Did they need planning permission for any of this work? Cheers.
Doug - 28-Oct-16 @ 2:40 PM
Drainman - Your Question:
A neighbour has applied for a 3 meter extension to run up to their boundary fence. This has since been granted with very little opposition as it doesn't really interfere with any neighbouring properties. Since work has started the extension has exceeded their boundary fence and is over half way across our right of way, the plans didn't mention anything about it doing that and the plans suggested the distance from the house to the boundary fence was over 3 meters which clearly now it isn't. The council don't care because the measurements of the building is all they care about, while all neighbours who use this right of way to the rear of our homes will be unable to use it as we have before because of its reduction from 5ft to about 2ft. Is this legal and apart from the council is there anyone else who could help in resolving this?

Our Response:
If the planning department are unwilling to help you could try the legal system regarding the obstruction/restriction of the right of way (also consult your council's rights of way officer). If you think the planning department has not acted reasonably or effectively, make a complaint to the local government ombudsman.
ProblemNeighbours - 28-Oct-16 @ 1:58 PM
Can my neighbour constantlyuse a brick cutting machine in his back garden for his business plus storing all building equipment?Hes now finishing a massuve outbuildingthats completelyoverlooks the fence and into my back room and bedroom windows
Supersquirrel - 28-Oct-16 @ 11:12 AM
Hi my neighbour is constructing what looks like a summer house in his garden which looks about 600mm higher than his original garden height which was originally planted now this structure is built it is now overlooking into my garden and house are there any regulations being broken
Happy - 27-Oct-16 @ 8:09 PM
A neighbour has applied for a 3 meter extension to run up to their boundary fence. This has since been granted with very little opposition as it doesn't really interfere with any neighbouring properties. Since work has started the extension has exceeded their boundary fence and is over half way across our right of way, the plans didn't mention anything about it doing that and the plans suggested the distance from the house to the boundary fence was over 3 meters which clearly now it isn't . The council don't care because the measurements of the building is all they care about, while all neighbours who use this right of way to the rear of our homes will be unable to use it as we have before because of its reduction from 5ft to about 2ft. Is this legal and apart from the council is there anyone else who could help in resolving this?
Drainman - 27-Oct-16 @ 9:57 AM
Sally - Your Question:
Hi - I erected a very tall fence at the bottom of my garden 10 years ago. The fence cannot be seen by any of my neighbours. A grumpy old neighbour has now decided to complain about it to the council after all this time and the council have written to me advising I need retrospective planning consent. This is in Wales. Could somebody advise me where I stand on this?Many thanks, Sally

Our Response:
It might be worth speaking to a planning expert here, because we think the 10 year immunity rule may apply.
ProblemNeighbours - 25-Oct-16 @ 12:51 PM
Our neighbour (or the owner of the house next door as he is the landlord) applied to convert the house into a 1 and 2 bedroom flat and also do a 3 metreextension (both flats had living space and kitchen). This was granted. We have since found out from the builder he is putting 7 bedrooms each with their own bathroom, no living space and 2 kitchens. There could be between 7 and 14 people living in this property. I am contacting the council tomorrow but how can he think he can get away with this ? Just build it first and the fight the council for ages ? He owns a lot of properties and I'm sure he must know that it will get declined and he will have to rip it all out or am I missing something?
Pdizz - 24-Oct-16 @ 6:06 PM
Edm - Your Question:
We had a wall and fence separating our property from our neighbours. Our property is at a higher elevation so the wall was acting as a dividing boundary. Our neighbour removed the wall as he was having an extension built and was concerned about putting in foundations and sewage work. He has subsequently removed a substantial portion of our land and I am under the impression he is trying to encroach and sneak a bit of extra ground. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
Do you have details of your land boundaries? The best thing to do is to discuss this with your neighbours. Ask them for details of the location and an assurance that they will not be encroaching on your side of the boundary. If they do, then your resort is the courts.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Oct-16 @ 1:54 PM
Hi - I erected a very tall fence at the bottom of my garden 10 years ago.The fence cannot be seen by any of my neighbours.A grumpy old neighbour has now decided to complain about it to the council after all this time and the council have written to me advising I need retrospective planning consent.This is in Wales.Could somebody advise me where I stand on this? Many thanks, Sally
Sally - 24-Oct-16 @ 1:18 PM
Shorty - Your Question:
HiMy neighbour bought the bottom of my garden from the people I bought the house off. He built a nice fence which was fine but then started parking a caravan on there. He has since gravelled over the area and has started park huge transit vans on there. It looks a right mess and there are also people coming and going.He runs a disco business from his garden too, it's just a nightmare.We moved to Lichfield for a peaceful life. My wife has got early onset Parkinson's and we really just want to live as stress free a life as possible.Can anyone help?Kind regardsWayne

Our Response:
You could do some selective planting to screen off the transit vans. Regarding the party noise, contact your environmental health officerand report it as a noise nuisance.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Oct-16 @ 11:15 AM
We had a wall and fence separating our property from our neighbours. Our property is at a higher elevation so the wall was acting as a dividing boundary. Our neighbour removed the wall as he was having an extension built and was concerned about putting in foundations and sewage work. He has subsequently removed a substantial portion of our land and I am under the impression he is trying to encroach and sneak a bit of extra ground. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Edm - 23-Oct-16 @ 1:14 AM
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