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Help with Neighbours extension plans

(21 Posts)
fitzy73 Sat 20-Jun-15 09:14:46

Hi all,

I was wondering if someone could shed some light on a planning application for me.

We live in a Semi D in Se London / North Kent. We bought the property in 2006 after it had been extended to the boundary of the non adjacent neighbour. A garage and second floor, plus rear extension, were added to our house before we bought. There is a gap of about 1 foot between the side of our house and the non adjacent garage.

Our adjacent has now applied to build up his house, adding an extra story on top of his existing garage and building out the back. I don't have an issue with that per se. They keep themselves to themselves and aren't really friendly with anyone in the area, but we are on civil terms.

We received notification of the planning application a few weeks ago, but the plans themselves were missing on our local councils website until this week. The plans went on the site sometime this week, and I had a look at them last night.

The plans include an alarming "form closed cavity between properties" on the drawings. This will, effectively, make our house a terraced house!

I understand that having a 1 foot gap isn't ideal, for cleaning etc, but surely making our house a terraced house will decrease it's value?

Further, and as I understand it, we should have been given the plans with a Party Wall notice at least 2 months ago. We have not received these, which makes me think the neighbour knows bloody well we will object.

If / when I object (I have until Wed to do so) do I need to consult a solicitor to get the wording right? Should I mention in the objection that I have not received a Party Wall notice?

I'm really annoyed that they didn't even have the courtesy to knock on the door and tell us of their plans. As I mentioned earlier I have no objections to them building on and up, but NOT against my house!

Any views / observations really appreciated.


StonedGalah Sat 20-Jun-15 09:31:25

I can't help as our neighbours applied and received planning permission but thankfully didn't end up doing any work.

But is your extension to the boundary? You mention a foot space, if you're not at the boundary then they can't go over.

However if your house is built to boundary, then is it a bit hypocritical to not allow them to do the same?

fitzy73 Sat 20-Jun-15 10:20:15

I think it is to the boundary, though possibly a few inches short. Not sure where I would find this info - as mentioned we bought the house after it had been extended.

All the other houses on our street have extended in the same way ie to within a few inches of the boundary. Adjacent properties then do the same, leaving a tiny gap between the houses. We are fine with that but do not want to be joined to the neighbours house, effectively making a terrace of four houses!

fitzy73 Sat 20-Jun-15 10:21:32

Actually I just looked and there is definitely a few inches between our boundary and theirs.

LIZS Sat 20-Jun-15 10:26:07

Are they actually using your wall as part of their extension or leaving a similar gap their side, not that a 2' gap is useful for either maintenance or access. I think a party wall agreement needs to be issued in advance of the work commencing not pp application. You may be able to see the plans of before and after your extension online or at your council offices if you request. At that time I would have thought a 1m gap was standard.

honeyandfizz Sat 20-Jun-15 10:27:10

I'm pretty sure that councils don't allow extensions that cause the terracing effect anymore. I have been looking at our local planning rules and they don't here (Birmingham), there is a minimum gap but I can't remember whether it's a foot or a meter. Have you checked the councils rules? Also do you have a window on that side as you could object on the basis of light lost.

LIZS Sat 20-Jun-15 10:27:52

Planning office don't look into land ownership as such so they can apply across the boundary line.

honeyandfizz Sat 20-Jun-15 10:38:29

Actually i just had a look and this was the guidance:-

"Two storey extensions, including bedrooms over garages, can have a significant effect on the street scene. The loss of the gap between detached or semi- detached homes can create the impression of a continuous frontage. This is called the ‘terracing effect’. It can be out of character with the appearance of the area and is best avoided. For example, on the first floor, you may need to reduce the size of the extension to leave a visible gap between the houses or set it back from the front wall of the original house".

So it doesn't actually say its not allowed just not preferred. I think its perfectly reasonable to object under those circumstances that you describe though.

fitzy73 Sat 20-Jun-15 11:42:58

LIZS - they are effectively using our wall.

See attached screen shot of their proposal (I've taken out any identifying information) and also a rudimentary diagram of how the houses are situated.

As per my diagram they want to fill in the gap between the houses. Because the houses are at an angle, it could be argued that our rear does sit on the boundary - thought I don't know.

The front is not on the boundary.

fitzy73 Sat 20-Jun-15 11:57:38

There are no windows at the side of our house (I believe it was a condition of planning of the guy who did the extension).

fitzy73 Sat 20-Jun-15 16:09:13

Also can anyone advise on what exactly I say in the objection?

TheUnwillingNarcheska Sat 20-Jun-15 16:59:27

If this was happening to me I would hire a planning consultant who would be the best person to argue anything.

They know the correct way to phrase any objections "comments" and their knowledge of the system is better than anything you can find on the council website about what you can comment on.

Pangurban Sat 20-Jun-15 20:17:23

Is there a boundary fence between your properties at all? If there is a few inches to spare, I must admit I'd get one up pronto so there is something between you and your neighbours. You can put it up all on your property and object to the plan if they plan to do something on your land. If some of the land ownership on the proposed site is by someone else, I believe they have to declare this on the application form. If they are thinking of trying to build on your property, I'd refuse to allow them to do this.

A party wall agreement does not have to be issued to obtain planning permission. If one is necessary, it will be issued in relation to the actual construction. The council do not have anything to do with that.

A chartered surveyor is what you would need, I think. They are expensive, though.

newstart15 Sat 20-Jun-15 21:32:39

You can object and perhaps speak to the planning officer if the plans have not been available and therefore you have had reduced time.

Party Wall act is separate to planning and you should receive notification prior to build however if your neighbours need to access your land to build I would have that conversation now.It may make them rethink their extension.

I think the fact they didn't discuss with you is worrying so you may need to prepare for active discussions.

BlackbirdOnTheWire Sat 20-Jun-15 21:36:34

I'm not entirely sure what 'form closed cavity' actually means. I think you need to seek clarification of that before you go any further, since I don't understand how they could intend to fill in a wedge between the properties, especially with the widest opening at the front - what's the distance between the properties there?

I'm just wondering - with absolutely no specialist knowledge - if this is a shorthand. 'Form of construction: closed cavity wall on the side of our house nearest this particular neighbour' rather than 'closing the gap between properties'?

Haven't a clue myself but I'd definitely find out first because if it does turn out to be that you don't need to worry or go to as much expense. I'd start by phoning the council and asking them what that means on the plans. They're usually pretty helpful! If they think there's an ambiguity, they'll want to look into it too.

BlackbirdOnTheWire Sat 20-Jun-15 21:38:14

Meant to say that one of the reasons I wondered is because of the party wall thing - if it's just referring to the form of construction of their wall, then the party wall agreement isn't necessary because you wouldn't have a shared wall.

BlackbirdOnTheWire Sat 20-Jun-15 22:02:00

And another thought (I've been searching for building regs for us in the meantime and this has been bugging me!) - if the garage is at the front, nearest the road, and they are building over it and extending over the back, it would make much more sense if they were 'closing the gap' at the back, where the extension is and where your house is nearest to them. Why on earth would anyone demolish and then push out the existing wall/foundations/subfloor in order to gain at maximum an extra 12” of width? We decided an extension of 2' into our own garden - which would massively increase light into our house - was way too costly.

On the other hand, any new wall (and the new storey above the existing garage qualifies, as well as the kitchen if that's the extension) would need to meet fire regs as a thermal wall - so that could fit with a 'closed cavity' wall, ie pumping the cavity full of fire retardant stuff.

Again, I don't know. I just can't see it's worth the expense to extend a garage by a foot at most in width! Only useful if you have a pointy car!

Pangurban Sat 20-Jun-15 22:30:20

You'd need to check the party wall act, but if they are digging a certain depth within a certain distance of your foundations (think it's 3 metres), they should issue party wall agreement. You can look this act up online.

charlestonchaplin Sun 21-Jun-15 00:28:35

It is worth bearing in mind that if your property has been extended to the boundary or a few inches shy of the boundary, your foundations are likely to be encroaching on your neighbour's land. I don't know what the full implications of this are, but I feel it is likely to be very relevant.

BlackbirdOnTheWire Sun 21-Jun-15 00:56:07

Pangurban my first thought was 'but they wouldn't be digging foundations, they're building on top of an existing building' - then remembered that there's a rear extension too...

The 3m rule is if you're building within 3m of a neighbour's building and going deeper than their foundations - though how they'd know, I don't know. But it's possible you could build within 3m and not have to serve a party wall notice if your foundations are shallower.

You would have to serve a party wall notice if you're building up against the boundary too, regardless of neighbour's buildings.

I'll definitely be watching this thread with interest to find out what the neighbours are intending and whether it's allowed...

TwoAndTwoEqualsChaos Sun 21-Jun-15 01:00:09

You can always phone and talk to your Planning Office for advice.

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