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neighbours WILL object if we proceed with planning application... what now?

(31 Posts)
NeatFreak Sun 29-Jul-12 20:06:39

We have a good relationship with our neighbours and advised them that we were talking to an architect about a potential extension. We explained our ideas and said we would show them plans before submitting them. We've now done this and they aren't happy with our plans as it will be oppressive and block their light into their conservatory. I think there was some misunderstanding when we initially talked to them as they were ok in principle before they saw the plans.

Our architect thinks that any objections they have will be dismissed with insufficient grounds so we are stuck as to what to do... we want to keep a harmonious relationship with them (they really are lovely!) but the plans can't really be altered much if they are still to give us the space we would like.
The options are to go ahead despite their concerns (would this also impact on timescales if they object?), modify plans to compromise with them or move house. I don't really want to do any of them!

Any advice, thoughts or shared experience would be much appreciated (lodges self back between rock and hard place)

wisecamel Sun 29-Jul-12 21:21:43

Lovely neighbours are very easy to take for granted. Do you need the space more than you need their goodwill? For example, are you attached (literally) to them? Shared drives, that kind of thing?

NeatFreak Sun 29-Jul-12 21:26:00

Thanks. We are all detached with no shared drive or anything. Our house is slightly set back from theirs so we would block the light from around a third of their garden (we already block the conservatory). Only other issue is that our proposals would take us right up to the boundary line so if there was any maintenance needed on the brickwork we would have to hope they would allow us access...

wisecamel Sun 29-Jul-12 21:32:58

It's tricky. We are not extending our house because it really would shade the neighbour's conservatory and I would hate it if my neighbour on the other side did that to me - but then we are terraced and I need them to like me as we have small, noisy kids that they are very generous and kind to.

Personally, I wouldn't do it, particularly if you think they may have valid points in objecting and it may be a step too far to assume that they would let you have access for maintenance - at the very least, can you step in the extension to give you a bit of room on your land to do this?

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Sun 29-Jul-12 21:33:04

We went ahead with two neighbours objecting. One sold up and moved house, the other put up a 6 foot fence between us.

We went ahead because their reasons for objecting were really petty / spurious, your neighbours sound like they have more serious objections, albeit they may not be strong enough to stop planning permission being granted.

In your case I would be really cautious at proceeding with an extension righ on the boundary. You may need access to their garden for building / maintenance and people do get really upset at losing sunlight from their garden.

If you have a dispute you will have to detail it in the seller's pack when / if you move...

tricot39 Sun 29-Jul-12 21:36:47

if you build up to the boundary you will need a party wall award. the neighbours cannot stop the work but they could drag the award process out and create delay and expense. you will have to pay for their surveyor and engineer. they might run up a big bill quite easily. if you can bear it i would get the architect to draw up some quick sketch options dealing with their concerns. you can see whether it is as big a compromise as you fear.

i suppose it also depends on the orientation. if you are blocking sunlight from their garden then that will be a bit grim for them and im sure you wouldn't like it if your other neighbours did something similar to you?

wisecamel Sun 29-Jul-12 21:41:14

tricot39's idea is good - you said that they agreed in principle, so they must have had an idea what 'OK' would look like. They would be pleased to be asked and at least you'd know how far apart your ideas were and if compromise would be achieveable.

bisjolympics Sun 29-Jul-12 21:42:00

If you were my neighbours and built up to the boundary despite my objections to your plans I wouldn't be allowing you any access for maintenance.

Blocking the light from a third of their garden sounds really unneighbourly and a large extension. As others have said, how would you feel if the same was done to you?

frostyfingers Sun 29-Jul-12 21:49:33

I would try and find out what they would find acceptable - try and work with them as much as you can. Major neighbour issues can make your house hard to sell, so tread carefully.

jalopy Sun 29-Jul-12 21:52:46

Does their conservatory have any impact on your light levels or vista?

NeatFreak Sun 29-Jul-12 22:06:23

Just to clarify, our neighbours are lovely and we wouldn't go ahead without their approval, I was just mulling our options over out loud. I think I was just taken aback as we thought showing them the plans would be a paperwork exercise but my rational head is back on now!

It isn't a massive extension but our gardens are quite small and our house is set further back from theirs.

Dh and I have spent the evening looking at alternatives that may work- it won't give us exactly what we want but it would a compromise for both of us. it would sort downstairs out but upstairs would be more tricky.Dh has spoken to the neighbours about what they would find acceptable so I'm hoping this will be ok. The architect is keen for us to go ahead regardless but we couldn't/wouldn't do that.
Fwiw, our other neighbours did the same a couple of years ago and we had no objections as it gives us more privacy but I realise that different people have different views and use their garden differently.
Thanks for all the advice

mylovelymonster Mon 30-Jul-12 08:54:50

Can you not do a ground floor extension (leaving yourself space around for access for maintenance, rather than needing to use your neighbours' garden) and go up into the loft instead?

Everyonehasaprice Mon 30-Jul-12 09:02:58

I have to say that i think you should go ahead but try and compromise a little. My next door neightbours are doing the same to us with their plans for an extension. We get on well with them, we don't like their proposed extension but they'll get planning permission so what is the point of objecting i think our relationship with them is more important than objecting when we would not succceed. That's what the planning process is for, to allow someone not involved to make a decision on planning grounds

BegoniaBigtoes Mon 30-Jul-12 09:10:53

Yes go to them and say you don't want to go ahead with anything that would upset them, but ask if they could describe what would be OK. Often people just want to feel listened to and that they have some influence, and then you might find they are more flexible.

Aftereightsaremine Mon 30-Jul-12 09:11:23

When we did our extension a few years ago we kept our neighbours informed every step of the way, including inviting them over when architect was there. We told the architect that under no circumstances would we proceed with anything they were unhappy with. And we also live in a detached house. The result is that we have maintained great relationship with both sides.

We also bought presents for our neighbours when the work was finished as thank you for putting up with us having builders for a year.

herhonesty Mon 30-Jul-12 09:23:48

We’re in a very similar position – its 50-50 as to whether or not we’ll get permission for a two storey, if not, we’ll just go for single storey. But if we don’t get double storey, we’ll eventually move, as we’ll outgrow the house as the kids get older.

Its difficult for us because we have a very bad relationship with her. We put permission in to put a drive way in the front which got turned down (we are in a conservation area) and since then she has bad mouthed us to everyone who will listen – properly nasty stuff. She shows no respect for our rights, putting up nasty fencing against our hedge, coming onto our property to tack ghastly fencing on top of existing stuff and creosoting it, putting in windows that over look our garden without planning permission etc, parking across our gate, etc.

Part of us thinks “she’s going to make our life hell if we put in permission, should we bother??” and we’re scared of the inevitable backlash. But then the other part of us thinks that this is in fact bullying or at the very least intimidation. The planning system is in place to make objective decisions (admittedly, this doesn’t always happen) particularly when there are diverse opinions.

You should look it in the long term as well. If you don’t apply for planning permission, the next person who lives in your house might. Nothing lasts forever.

mollymole Mon 30-Jul-12 09:26:51

Why don't you ask your neighbours to come round and meet with you and your architect to try and reach a compromise suited to all of you.

dinkystinky Mon 30-Jul-12 09:31:43

Our neighbours objected to our original planning permission for extension on flat roof for bathroom - this was after talking to them about our plans and how it would look before the application went in. They didnt even tell us until we were told by the council it was rejected (and we thought we got on well with them till then). We left things for a year and planning rules changed so did what we wanted upstairs under permitted development (the extension was actually larger than originally planned but still not huge). We explained to the neighbours we were sorry they didnt like it but we were going to do it and we were assured by our architect it would not be obtrusive/obstruct light/views from their bedroom as they claimed. We've had it done a year now and the neighbours have confirmed they were OTT in objecting to it - infact they've applied under planning to do the same to their house now (but got it turned down as they've already used planning - at the same time as us - to do their side return)!

Pattypooped Mon 30-Jul-12 13:15:28

I am confused why your neighbours will lose light if your plans are within planning guidelines.

Planning guidelines are there to protect neighbouring houses - if your plans are 'passable' then I'm unclear what they object to?

There is no legal 'right to light' in the garden, I don't think. I guess this largely comes down to which way the gardens face (You may have already said, I may have missed that) and I totally understand that blocking existing sunlight/evening light wouldn't be fair.

I agree you have to keep the peace with neighbours, but you also have to weigh this up against the fact it's your house. Is there any real point in going through the horrible upheaval of building works to build an extension that's not going to suit you as a family? I would never build some sort of 'compromise' which meant we would have to move house in the future.

In your position I would either go for the extension you actually want/need or just move house.

NeatFreak Mon 30-Jul-12 14:43:50

Thanks for the interesting feedback.
I'm not sure what way our garden faces blush. We get no sunshine where the extension will be (and where both our patios are) from about midday so we both have a seating area at the back of the garden, which won't be affected at all by building works.
Our arhcitect is coming round on Wednesday to discuss our options so we will see if he can come up with some realistic alternatives and if not we will then have to consider how to proceed. I think they may agree to a side extension behind our garage- as it does not extend beyond the existing depth of the house- but will object to building out further than that so we may look at ways of building out at the other side of the back of the house (sorry, that is confusing me so it probably won't be very descriptive!). I think it is doable with a few tweaks but I suspect it will interfere with the architect's 'vision' smile...
Sigh, it was all going so well!!

sweetkitty Wed 01-Aug-12 07:18:17

We had this with our first plans for an extension the neighbours objected to loss of light and feeling boxed in, it got passed regardless, we had to put scaffolding in a part of their garden (it's a side part about half a metre wide overgrown with weeds) they said no. Due to this and other reasons we decided to move house. Then we looked at it again and thought lets make the extension smaller, the neighbours were happier with this, we're about to start work in a few weeks.

NeatFreak Fri 03-Aug-12 12:32:35

Just thought I would update that we now have a new set of plans that the neighbour should be happy with- we have kept the boundary extension as a single storey and extended the full height extension in the other direction, meaning downstairs is actually bigger but upstairs slightly smaller- it is a reasonable compromise and should be granted planning permission so hopefully it is all go now...
Thanks for all the comments and advice smile

Laurensdad Sun 04-Aug-13 14:35:39

We are in exactly this position. We discussed our planned side extension with our neighbour directly across from us (as they will be the ones looking at it) and they said they had no problems with it. They even offered to take some of the paving blocks (that we would have to lift) to use in their own garden!
After we put the planning application in they asked us how it was progressing, whenever they saw us on the street.
Then, with 24 hours left to go on the deadline for objections, they put in an objection. We were stunned!
Then 2 more of our close neighbours also put in objections - although both these were after the closing date, so not sure how much impact they will have.
All 3 of the 'last minute' objections followed a visit from one particularly unpleasant neighbour, who has complained about everything we have done to the house since we bought it. We know that this person orchestrated (or encouraged) these objections, but there's nothing we can do.
Fortunately, we opted for a 'pre-planning' application, and were assured that there 'should' be no problems. We'll see how it goes.
What I find most upsetting, apart from people changing their minds without telling you(?) is the unpleasant tone of these objections. Some of them are rather personal, with 2 of them basically saying that if we want more space we should move house.
1 objector has even invented facts and figures about the houses and 1 of the others has an extension of their own!

wonkylegs Sun 04-Aug-13 16:05:57

Unfortunately a pre planning discussion holds no weight at planning stage and even though you can be assured it's fine at the meeting/in the report it can be meaningless at the final stages, if the planning officer changes their mind or you just get a different officer who interprets the rules slightly differently. It's very frustrating and can make a mockery of the process at times.
Objections only hold weight if they are based on things that are part of the planning rules - neighbours often think reduction in the value of their house or loss of view are valid objections they are not. Loss of privacy, massing, character, scale are valid however.
One of the reasons I find domestic work so unattractive is the unpredictability of neighbours. Nice reasonable normal people quite often go a little mental when next door proposes an extension. Sometimes objections are valid, more often than not they are a bit crazy. I once had a neighbour object over the fact that he wouldn't be able to wash his car in private (it didn't overlook his house, garden, terrace just the small bit of yard he washed his car in).

Laurensdad Sun 04-Aug-13 16:17:39

Don't hold out much hope for the new 'Neighbourhood Consultation Scheme' - from what I have been reading there are 'so' many people who just use the planning process to have a go or settle scores. Very sad!

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