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

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 17 Aug 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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My downstairs neighbour was planning to build a big extension and applied for planning permission. It meant that my balcony which sat over his existing extension would have to be replaced. He then ran out if money and fell out with his architects and builders and moved out, renting his flat to tenants. Recently while I was on holiday he demolished my balcony and covered his extension with some waterproof cover - raising the level and with no visible drainage system. My balcony doors no longer open and I fear rainwater will fall towards the house (my flat) soak in the brickwork and cause damp. The problem is my balcony was built by the previous owners without planning permission and is not demised on my lease. It does not officially exist and despite havingbeen there for more than 10 years, its was built in defiance off planning refusal. I inherited all this and now have to decide what to do. I don't want to negotiate with the difficult neighbour as he is not trustworthy. I would like to build a small balcony bolted to my home - with enough room for a chair. But as I am not the freeholder I can't really touch the outside. He is not the freeholder either. I thinker has done the work ion breach of building regulations and without informing the freeholder whose tesponsibility this is. I don't want to be a snitch nor do I want to start world war 3 by reporting him to the Council and to the freeholder - but I have to make my flat safe and replace the non demised balcony either with a Juliet balcony (which the Council would allow but which is really the freeholder's responsibility) or preferably something a little bigger to replace my lost (non demised) asset. The freeholder is notoriously lazy, shady and reluctant to do anything that won't make him money - which this would not. What is my way forward?
Pascale - 17-Aug-18 @ 2:19 PM
My downstairs neighbour was planning to build a big extension and applied for planning permission. It meant that my balcony which sat over his existing extension would have to be replaced. He then ran out if money and fell out with his architects and builders and moved out, renting his flat to tenants. Recently while I was on holiday he demolished my balcony and covered his extension with some waterproof cover - raising the level and with no visible drainage system. My balcony doors no longer open and I fear rainwater will fall towards the house (my flat) soak in the brickwork and cause damp. The problem is my balcony was built by the previous owners without planning permission and is not demised on my lease. It does not officially exist and despite havingbeen there for more than 10 years, its was built in defiance off planning refusal. I inherited all this and now have to decide what to do. I don't want to negotiate with the difficult neighbour as he is not trustworthy. I would like to build a small balcony bolted to my home - with enough room for a chair. But as I am not the freeholder I can't really touch the outside. He is not the freeholder either. I thinker has done the work ion breach of building regulations and without informing the freeholder whose tesponsibility this is. I don't want to be a snitch nor do I want to start world war 3 by reporting him to the Council and to the freeholder - but I have to make my flat safe and replace the non demised balcony either with a Juliet balcony (which the Council would allow but which is really the freeholder's responsibility) or preferably something a little bigger to replace my lost (non demised) asset. The freeholder is notoriously lazy, shady and reluctant to do anything that won't make him money - which this would not. What is my way forward?
Pascale - 17-Aug-18 @ 2:18 PM
Sjn - Your Question:
My new neighbour has built a garage and raised the hight of the ground in his garden with hard core and pebbles with an obvious slope into my property. Before this the ground on his side was undulating and grassed and the rain water drained away, now the water runs into my property. Although I am on a lower level I have not had this problem on the boundary before, I have lived here for over twenty years. Can you advise my legal rights please, since I questioned his plans they no longer speak to me or my wife so no point of going down that route.Njs

Our Response:
Common law requires property owners touse their land in a way that does not increase the risk of flooding to a neighbouring property. There is however, a natural right of drainage that allows water that flows naturally across neighbour A's land to flow downhill naturally to neighbour B's land. Neighbour A cannot however,artificially channel water in a way that will cause damage your neighbour B's land.
If the work of your neighbour has resulted in this "artificial" channelling, you may be able to seek damages/redress in the civil courts. Seek advice from a legal professional first.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Aug-18 @ 2:19 PM
My new neighbour has built a garage and raised the hight of the ground in his garden with hard core and pebbles with an obvious slope into my property. Before this the ground on his side was undulating and grassed and the rain water drained away, now the water runs into my property. Although I am on a lower level I have not had this problem on the boundary before, I have lived here for over twenty years. Can you advise my legal rights please, since I questioned his plans they no longer speak to me or my wife so no point of going down that route. Njs
Sjn - 7-Aug-18 @ 11:13 AM
Bobby - Your Question:
Hey, This is a bit complicated but basically we have a really bad relationship with our neighbours. We did an extension and they did theirs 2 years before. Thing is, because we live in a conservation area, they've built theirs higher against the planning permission they were given. The difference is noticeable when comparing both houses. Is there anything the LPA can do once the building the extension has been built?

Our Response:
Yes they can make the owners remove it if it doesn't comply with conditions stipulated in the planning consent.
ProblemNeighbours - 31-Jul-18 @ 11:45 AM
Hey, This is a bit complicated but basically we have a really bad relationship with our neighbours. We did an extension and they did theirs 2 years before. Thing is, because we live in a conservation area, they've built theirs higher against the planning permission they were given. The difference is noticeable when comparing both houses. Is there anything the LPA can do once the building the extension has been built?
Bobby - 30-Jul-18 @ 10:03 AM
My neighbour has built a garden building with the wall on my side serving as the boundary between our properties. He has installed two windows about 1 foot high and 3.5 feet wide which open onto my property/ garden. So physically the open windows will encroach upon my space/airspace! I have windows near there also but they are within my boundary- about 1 metre from the edge. His windows look directly at mine. Is there something I can do about this? The guy is a bully and he is relying on the fact that I am a single woman who he can intimidate.
RK - 29-Jul-18 @ 7:54 AM
Hi A few months ago my neighbour claimed he had a leak in his property and that the cause of the leak was our roof?.On inspection by a roofer I called he said the problem was not with our roof but the roof of our neighbour.The roofer explained this to my neighbour and in doing so highlighted that when in the past my neighbour had a new roof put on his house the work had actually encroached on to our property by about 12inches.Since this we have had no communication with our neighbour and are at a loss as where to go next.Please could you help. Thanks
Paddy - 25-Jul-18 @ 9:42 AM
None - Your Question:
Hi Jeff. And to anyone who can help with my upcoming question. Can anybody tell me. What is the time frame , after a building development has been completed. Can you file a complaint. Either due to Party wall. Non adhereing to submitted plans or any other building irregularities and breaches. As I have had various answers. None of which are confirmed and I can' t see to find a definitive answer. I have been told. 5. 9. 12. Yrs is the time frame but cannot find confirmation. If any body knows. Please give me the answer.Many thanks.Dawson.None.

Our Response:
This would be a separate legal issue, not associated with the party wall act. If you feel a neighbour has not completed work in line with building regulations, you could try talking to your building control officer.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Jul-18 @ 10:42 AM
Hi Jeff . And to anyone who can help with my upcoming question . Can anybody tell me . What is the time frame , after a building development has been completed . Can you file a complaint . Either due to Party wall . Non adhereing to submitted plans or any other building irregularities and breaches . As I have had various answers . None of which are confirmed and I can' t see to find a definitive answer . I have been told . 5. 9 . 12 . Yrs is the time frame but cannot find confirmation . If any body knows . Please give me the answer . Many thanks . Dawson . None .
None - 19-Jul-18 @ 2:27 PM
Hi . Can anybody give me a suggestion to my plan of action . To my above query . Having many sleepless nights . And I have a health condition . That requires sleep rest and calmness . I have been told by several builders my situation should be investigated by planning enforcement . But as above stated . Building control have stated that you dont have to adhere to submitted plans if you have permitted development . This has been contradicted by several sources of construction personnel who I have seeked information and advice from . Could someone please browse through my above query and if they have any proactive suggestions . Please give me your view or knowledge on the matter . Thanks . Dawson . None.
None - 17-Jul-18 @ 8:27 AM
Hi Jeff . I have recently made a complaint about my neighbours single storey rearextension . On a semi detatched house . To my local authority . ( Manchester City Council . Building control department . There have been many building breaches what have been brought to my attention . Namely. The footings go beyond the boundary . Onto my land . The extension goes beyond the Party wall . The dimensions are beyond 3 metres outwards . And the bathroom soil and waste pipe has been directed from his bathroom through the wall into my soil pipe on my side of property . This does not comply to his submitted plans . As the building control officer has stated to me this morning . And he also laid a drain pot on my land side of property for his waste and sewage water. This was all done with me not living at my home at the time . Due to me having an accident at work on the day his development commenced . And I was abscent from the home for 7 weeks and could not oversee anything what may be untoward.This was done a period of time ago . I had regularly questioned what he had done . Pointing out all these irregularities . And he has stated . It is all above board . Though a lot of what he has done . Not only breaches building regulations . But also does not adhere to his submitted plans . He states that he was granted a permitted development . So he does not have to adhere to any submitted plans . Though I have been informed by two separate builders . Very much differently . The building control inpector who visited my property on Fri 13/ 7 / 2018. Has today echoed my neighbours comments . And stated everything is ok . As he does not have to adhere to any plans due to him being granted a permitted development . I have contacted two builders since my conversation with the Building Control officer . And they have said that I am being lied to . If there is breaches . Then they should be investigated by a Enforcement Officer . But the Building control officer has stringently stated . There is very little if anything that can be done . This is causing a lot of anguish . Due to the fact that a estate agent has said this can devalue my home considerably . Also prohibit any home improvements and a possible extension development for my own home . Aswell as the soil pipe situation .Which is stopping me modernising my bathroom . Also I never recieved any plans . As they were submitted six days after the work commenced . I was not served a Party wall act notice 1996. And I did not consent to any changes to be carried out on my side of property . His extension wall is only 70mm inside the dividing garden fence . So there is no longer fence panels dividing both properties . There is more to report . But I would like feedback on the above documented findings . And what can I do next . Or where do I go ? With Much appreciation . Dawson .
None - 16-Jul-18 @ 12:13 PM
Suggestions needed. My neighbour (whose house has had permitted development rights removed) has planning permission to build a side garage. He has built a habitable room. When I complained to my local council they instructed applicant to submit a retrospective planning application. This has not yet been determined. Building works have slowly continued. Window frame at front of building (where garage door is granted to be built) has been installed and is grey in colour whereas the retrospective planning application stated it would match existing frames, which are white. So, to my mind, applicant is clearly in breach of a retrospective planning application which has not yet been determined. My query is when do I best submit my complaint for maximum effect? Applicant is allowed one retrospective planning application. So do I wait until retrospective application is determined before pointing out that build is in breach of what has been granted (if indeed retrospective planning permission is granted)? Or am I best, all ways up, in complaining as soon as possible that applicant is building not to the retrospective application? Or does it make no difference because, in reality, anyone can build anything, anytime, anywhere, without permission and local council will never take any action? Build is in excess of what is currently allowed under permitted development rights and house does not have permitted development rights so, to my mind, council should never have given permission for side garage in first place. But they did, despite plans contravening the councils own policy documents in many respects. But it is the timing issue I am wanting suggestions on. I have earlier accused my local council of malfeasance concerning an earlier application but the LGO refuse to investigate. What a surprise.
tmbrian - 14-Jul-18 @ 5:57 PM
We helped our daughter buy a house that is a grade two listed building. It is one of two semi-detached houses. There is a very tiny garden which the deeds say belongs to the neighbour, but our daughter is allowed access to the drains in an emergency. She is perfectly happy to keep the back door locked and accepts that the garden is not hers. However the neighbour has now erected a trellis with ivy growing up it 30 cm from the kitchen window and a huge sturdy kids playhouse outside the backdoor and bathroom window. Not only do these block the light into our daughter's house, but the windows cannot now be fully opened. The playhouse blocks access to the manhole cover and also prevents a quick escape in an emergency such as a fire. Is this legal? Now it is summer, the neighbour also complains about the "adult" nature of the conversations her children overhear and our daughter is upset by the sound of shouting children. Do both parties just need to be considerate or are there some laws that pertain here?
Vegansmother - 14-Jul-18 @ 5:18 PM
I’m selling my house and my neighbors live in a grade 2 listed former chapel. They have recently installed additional skylight windows to the rooftop, but I have found no application for this on the local Authority planning website, and I’ve received no notification. It may be that they don’t need consent, and I don’t want to accuse them of anything, but it does alter the look of the building & I’m concerned in case my new buyers raise this as an objection! Any thoughts?
Dow - 10-Jul-18 @ 9:43 AM
My neighbor has. Build an extension to the back of there housein a little shapeand the long part of thel part goes outso the shorter part isattached to the boundary wall ,but they have built a patio of concrete that now when they are standing on itthey are head and shoulder's over mywall which means my privacy is goneso my question is to you what is the leagal height they are allowed to have a solid patiooff the ground and must it also have the height stated on the planning permission they were applying for
Helen - 8-Jul-18 @ 12:09 PM
I live on a street of detached bungalows, my neighbour has recently raised his roof height and added a 1st floor.He is now seeking planning permission to put a spiral staircase down the back corner of his house. If allowed,when on the steps of this staircase,my neighbour would be able to look into my back garden and into my conservatory window. Will this be allowed?
Betty Boop - 7-Jul-18 @ 1:32 AM
I own a semi detached house and I’m having a extension to the back of my house and a bedroom built above my garage, now my neighbour not attached is saying they own the foundations to my garage, is this correct
Jay - 6-Jul-18 @ 6:37 AM
They cannot connect to your wall without your consent as far as I know.
Me - 5-Jul-18 @ 6:10 PM
Hi , both my neighbors have built eye saws so I'm finding it difficult to enjoy my garden and summer house, my one neighbor has had a big exstention and also built a building at the bottom of his garden , it has a window and a door , it over looks my garden as is just awful, I also feel it's all to close to the fence, then my other neighbor has built with plastic panels and looks like I live next to a factory, I feel invaded when enjoying my garden space
Sally - 4-Jul-18 @ 11:13 AM
DRH - Your Question:
My neighbour is constructing a two storey extension quite close to my house wall. His foundations exposed a public sewer by up to 20mm for approximately 2 metres of the length and the concrete was laid. I have spoken to Thames Water and asked whether the neighbour had obtained build over consent but was informed that they couldn't release that information. I understand that the statutory inspection 2 would have looked at this - do I have a right to know who completed the statutory inspection and whether consent to build over was granted, and if so how would I go about finding this information. Thanks in advance

Our Response:
The building control officer at your local council should know about this. We're not sure whether they're obliged to tell you about it however, unless it's on your land.
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Jul-18 @ 12:17 PM
duchyd - Your Question:
The neighbour in front has erected a shed, which normally would not be a problem but we have (had) a lovely sea view, and this building is now partially obstructing the view :(His original building is detached, the new shed is approximately 50m away from the house, 15m from the road and because he has raised the height of the garden by adding bulk loads of soil to it, the result is that the shed is approximately 7m height from the original ground level to roof.Do we have a case to appeal?

Our Response:
Possibly - the maximum permitted height for out building is an eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of four metres. Talk to your planning officer.
ProblemNeighbours - 29-Jun-18 @ 3:25 PM
My neighbour is constructing a two storey extension quite close to my house wall. His foundations exposed a public sewer by up to 20mm for approximately 2 metres of the length and the concrete was laid. I have spoken to Thames Water and asked whether the neighbour had obtained build over consent but was informed that they couldn't release that information. I understand that the statutory inspection 2 would have looked at this - do I have a right to know who completed the statutory inspection and whether consent to build over was granted, and if so how would I go about finding this information. Thanks in advance
DRH - 29-Jun-18 @ 9:28 AM
The neighbour in front has erected a shed, which normally would not be a problem but we have (had) a lovely sea view, and this building is now partially obstructing the view :( His original building is detached, the new shed is approximately 50m away from the house, 15m from the road and because he has raised the height of the garden by adding bulk loads of soil to it, the result is that the shed is approximately 7m height from the original ground level to roof. Do we have a case to appeal?
duchyd - 28-Jun-18 @ 5:52 PM
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
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