Can I stop building next door what would make my house a center patio?

REAL ESTATE CLINIC: Can I prevent my neighbor from building on my wall and affecting the value of my home by turning it into a center patio?

  • Your neighbor’s construction turns your home into a center patio and reduces its value
  • There is little in the planning system to protect neighbors’ home prices
  • Planners are concerned whether new development will harm the area

I live in an end terrace house and my neighbor owns the side garden and would like to build another house there, directly on my side wall, so that my house becomes a mid-terrace house.

This means my house will go down in value by about 15 percent and the construction work will be a nightmare as we are working from home – is there anything I can do about it? JB

Planners are concerned whether a new development will harm a particular area

MailOnline property expert Myra Butterworth replies: It seems odd that the current planning system can allow a neighbor to build right against your side wall.

However, we spoke to a planning expert and this appears to be the case as the planning system is not designed to protect home prices or construction noise – both concerns you have raised.

This means that just because you have objected to these matters, this will not be automatically rejected.

Planning permission is still required so you need to pay attention to this and how best to influence the development should permission be granted. Our planning expert provides more details on this below.

Martin Gaine, a licensed urban planner, replies: Neighbors’ construction work is rarely welcome – it’s noisy and disruptive and there’s always a risk of damaging your property or losing light or privacy from the final development.

You have additional cause for concern. Your neighbor wants to build an entire additional house as a side extension to yours, turning your end terrace into a middle terrace and likely reducing its value. You are right that the construction work will be abysmal, especially since you are working from home.

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The problem is that a property owner is generally entitled to develop their own property and there is little in the planning system to protect neighbors’ home prices or protect them from construction noise and hassles.

The party wall law allows neighbors to build up to their border, so you should first find out if your neighbor owns all of the land up to your side wall.

If the side wall of your home straddles the boundary – ie half yours and theirs – you are entitled to use that wall as part of your build.

If your side wall is on your lot but right next to the boundary, you can build the house right against it.

The law requires them to give you notice, and you can hire surveyors at their expense – to make sure their plans don’t damage your property – but you can’t use it to stop the work entirely.

Your neighbor needs a building permit for his development. It is important to provide explanations for the building application. Download the plans, read them carefully and ask the clerk for advice if you don’t understand something. Seek the support of your local community councils if you feel your concerns are not being heard.

Think carefully about your answer. Planners are concerned that new development will harm the area – in terms of character and looks, parking issues, etc. – and that it will not harm neighbors in terms of light or privacy. But the impact on your property’s value and the impact of construction work are simply not valid planning considerations.

Don’t focus solely on stopping development—if it’s going to happen, you want to influence how it happens. You can comment on the design – to ensure it matches the other houses along the terrace – as well as proposed landscaping and the number of parking spaces, and you can request planning conditions to control how the development is taking place – by targeting construction work on specific ones Limit hours and days, for example.

Even if your neighbor owns the land next to you and he gets a building permit, such a construction will not be easy.

They need your cooperation to succeed, which can give you some clout in discussions with them about exactly how development should be done, even if you’re unable to stop them entirely.

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