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Neighbour wants to build four houses on his land

(20 Posts)
PissedOffWithNeighbour Mon 07-Nov-16 20:31:05

I've name changed for this as it could end up rather identifiable!

A neighbour in my small close has applied for permission to demolish his house and build four semi detached homes on the plot.

Our close is only 18 houses and they were all built at the same time and have had minimal work done since, so the street very much has a look. He sought pre-planning advice from the council, which stated they felt it was an over development and would be unlikely to be approved. Despite this, he went ahead with ground works that required planning permission he didn't have, and lied to the street that he just wanted to terrace his garden (we were all unaware of the pre-planning advice).

On the face of it, it would seem that it is unlikely to be approved, however his building company have made a number of similar developments where permission has been denied, than allowed after numerous small tweaks or appeals. This is obviously making us all rather nervous.

The whole street are objecting, and we are asking people who use a local cut that goes alongside the proposed development to consider objecting (it would result in up to eight cars reversing blind right next to a public footpath). I am trying to make sure I reference local planning rules in my objection.

Our houses all have a restrictive covenant on them to prevent development without the covenant holder's permission, but our local councillor said this is a legal matter rather than a planning issue- is this correct?

Lastly (and thank you if you've got this far!), since he has no regard for planning rules I wouldn't put it past him to demolish the house before planning permission is sorted. I read something about an article 4 direction to prevent this happening. Can a council apply an article 4 direction on an individual house in such circumstances, or will I sound like a pillock asking them to do so?

I've already had to ask the council to extend the deadline for comments since there is absolutely no notification posted outside the property about the application. Luckily we have a very active local Facebook group!

Any advice about how we can stop this would be appreciated.

FlamingoSnuffle Mon 07-Nov-16 20:47:11

Personally if this was me I would look at paying a professional to get this stopped.

Technically I suppose it would be a private planning consultant but using their knowledge on what you can all "comment" on. I would concentrate on the usual stuff but focus on highways, increased traffic etc.

Yes covenants are nothing to do with the council. The enforcement of these things is difficult and convoluted and all depends on the wording. I am not a legal bod but have come across this in the past (all I am willing to admit to wink )

I would also suggest GardenLaw forum for some advice too.

Also contact your local MP and get them involved too. After all, you voted them in to represent your issues.

DreamingofItaly Mon 07-Nov-16 20:59:44

You have to reference legitimate planning policies in any objections made otherwise they'll be ignored. For example, additional traffic, proximity to other houses, etc. Look up your local plan and see what it says about development in that specific area and reference the policy numbers in any objections. It doesn't matter that you don't like it.

If your neighbour is doing things already call the enforcement officer, they'll come out and put a stop to it. No work should be done before permission is granted.

You could pay a consultant to give you advice on the situation and how to handle it, but you're looking at £1500+ for this (I know, I've employed one in the past for this kind of thing).

You might want to notify the highways agency. I'm not sure where you are, but with my council highways don't comment on developments of 4 houses or less, you could have the same, with your reversing onto a blind bend/over a public footpath comment, I'm certain they will object due to the safety implications.

You will also want to look at the covenant thing, but as someone else said, it's legal not planning. A development if 4 houses near me recently happened on land with a no build covenant so it's not worth the paper it's written on.

Best of luck, it's going to be a slog, but you can do it.

PissedOffWithNeighbour Mon 07-Nov-16 21:15:05

Thank you both. All the locals are on the case (this man made himself very unpopular around here with a conversion of a house into flats- no parking was provided and now all the owners park at the bottom of our road).

I spent a very long time today referencing all the local and national planning guidelines that I feel this development would be contravening. I have included pictures of the garden that was destroyed and commented about the environmental impact of this. Our council (Bristol City Council) is very against developments that result in loss of garden space, which this clearly will. I have also mentioned the parking issues this could cause, and road safety for pedestrians using the footpath.

We are also very concerned about potential subsidence- as well as removing all the trees onsite, he wants to dig down and excavate up to 70 wagon loads of material on the site to build garages under the house, including one within less than a metre of out boundary! He already removed a large amount in his preparation work.

Unfortunately we can't stop the work already done, but if I see any sort of building type vehicle near the house I will be straight on the phone! I've already contacted the council about the lack of notification posted- a friend thinks it should have been his responsibility to put it up?

He had some graffiti on his fence in protest, so he has now installed a hidden CCTV camera, pissing off the locals even more!

MrsBertBibby Mon 07-Nov-16 22:28:45

Is it worth contacting local planning to see if any tree preservation orders should be slapped on?

PissedOffWithNeighbour Tue 08-Nov-16 00:03:23

Unfortunately the trees are all long gone shock

He ripped out all the trees and shrubs when he levelled the land before he had formally applied for planning permission (but after pre-planning advice had said permission would likely be denied).

The local tree officer is already on the case. If any development goes ahead then he will need to replace all the trees ( in the postage stamp sized gardens hmm), if there is no development then no need to replace the trees.

PickAChew Tue 08-Nov-16 00:09:02

Local water utility will be interested in where all the waste from 4 properties is supposed to be going.

We're in a position where landowner behind us wants to build about 100 properties. Cheeky bastard has only applied for a first wave of a dozen or so and ha s bought a house in our street - a lovely long terrace - to demolish for slightly wider access (though it can't be wider because there is a bloody tree in the way!)

PissedOffWithNeighbour Tue 08-Nov-16 00:22:59

Bloody bastard developers angry I think you should need planning permission to demolish buildings.

I do understand that there is a massive shortage of housing and I actually wouldn't have necessarily objected to one house being built behind the existing house as it is a big plot. But this developer just wants to make as much profit as possible.

ImNotChangingMyUsernameAgain Tue 08-Nov-16 00:29:01

You need to attack this from two angles: (i) planning to try to secure a refusal of the permission; and (ii) an injunction to prevent a breach of the restrictive covenant. The latter is fairly complex so it is worth joining forces with your neighbours to instruct a solicitor.

PoshPenny Tue 08-Nov-16 00:37:58

Over development, loss of amenity, loss of light, out of keeping with neighbouring properties. Hopefully contravenes a number of your local councils policies too. As many grounds as you can. If it's refused and he comes back with a revised scheme, the planning committee can't refuse the second application for something didn't mention first time round. Applicant could always appeal and get permission that way. Covenant not worth the paper it's written on, who will enforce it. Stick to the facts and be objective don't get personal about it as you will have to live with this person afterwards. Report all transgressions to building control/planning enforcement at the council as they arise.

PissedOffWithNeighbour Tue 08-Nov-16 00:47:31

Yes, I don't really think we could afford a legal battle to enforce the covenant. I doubt the company that collects the rent charge (a Bristol peculiarity, ours is now discharged but some neighbours are still paying their £21 a year) would battle either.

I am trying to raise as many points as possible and be factual. Environmental (loss of garden), out of keeping with the area, parking and traffic concerns, road safety with the footpath and extra cars, overlooking and being overlooked, concerns with rain runoff with tree removal and structural concerns.

PissedOffWithNeighbour Tue 08-Nov-16 00:48:35

And yes, have definitely described it as out of keeping with the area and overdevelopment

PissedOffWithNeighbour Tue 08-Nov-16 00:51:50

And I doubt we'll have to live near forever. He'll persevere until he gets permission to build something, get that done and then piss off to ruin someone else's street.

Collaborate Tue 08-Nov-16 07:59:26

Don't underestimate the power of the restrictive covenant. Or the fact that if you fail to enforce it it's power is lost. Check you home insurance policy for legal cover, which may well apply here. You're trying to maintain the value of your property.

champagnefromapapercup Tue 08-Nov-16 08:03:31

I would get all your neighbours and other supporting locals in your town hall and start a group as you'll have more power together. There may be someone who's a natural chair for this too.

PissedOffWithNeighbour Tue 08-Nov-16 08:24:53

That's a good point about home insurance collaborate. We do have legal cover so I might give them a call and see what they say.

I looked at the development this man did around the corner- he initially applied to demolish a house and rebuild into flats there, withdrew one application, next one was refused, then he changed plans to convert the house into flats (refused initially due to road safety of the proposed driveway, so he removed all parking from the property and gave money to set up a car club that never happened and it got passed).

I suspect these plans will be rejected, we just want to remove all chances to appeal. I suspect he'll get to build something though.

DreamingofItaly Tue 08-Nov-16 10:41:53

He will always appeal. His kind of people do and unfortunately the planning system is swayed in his favour (I.e. you can't appeal if he gets permission).

You don't need to wait for "building lorries" of it looks like he's got diggers there, call the enforcement team out as he could be digging foundations. He may not be, but be a nuisance with the council. Call up about anything, if he starts before 8am it's unreasonable so make a call, if he's got muck away lorries blocking your access, make a call, if there's mud on the road from whatever he's doing, make the call! You get the idea. Scrutinise his plans to the nth degree, planting, paving, roofing, bricks, the drainage strategy, services, access, you name it.

Fortunately Bristol are pretty good and I think they have their Local Plan and Housing Needs signed off (worth making sure). Where I live, we don't, they're still working on it and that means it's open season for developers here and awful.

Good luck!! Keep us posted!

gingeroots Tue 08-Nov-16 11:19:05

Can you search online on Bristol's planning site for similar /other applications .I found this enormously helpful when in a similar position .The decision notices are good because they list the policies that have informed the decision .

It also helps to speak to local councillors who will have a good working knowledge of the system and will probably help you .

I'm afraid planning won't care (IME) about potential subsidence .

Good luck .

PissedOffWithNeighbour Tue 08-Nov-16 12:54:21

Well, my objection letter is now running at six pages, with plenty of reference to the planning guidelines for bristol. I have borrowed some key phrases from the refusal of an application a couple of streets away and underlines my key points.

Our local society has put in a comment regarding the loss of trees etc. I am speaking to anyone who uses the lane next to the development to invite them to comment.

I'm wondering if we should speak to our insurer about potential ground works- presumably they would be interested?

ImNotChangingMyUsernameAgain Wed 09-Nov-16 21:32:57

Posh penny it's nonsense to suggest the covenant is not worth the paper it's written on. It's there for exactly this reason and the neighbour us counting on no one challenging him.

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