Legal Q&A: Will the council get tough with my neighbour?

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty, explains the issues behind planning permission, boundaries and extensions
Planning law officer visiting homeowner about the neighbour's extension
Question: Several years ago my neighbour built an extension at the back of his property. The wall of the extension comes within a couple of feet of my boundary fence. Do you think this may affect the value of my house? I don’t think he got planning permission, so is it true that after a while the structure becomes legal anyway?

Answer: It is not possible for me to comment on the possible effect of your neighbour’s extension on saleability. You will need to speak to a reputable local estate agent or qualified surveyor. Such extensions are not uncommon.

There are three things that the extension should probably have complied with:

1. The Party Wall Act
This requires prior notice to a neighbour of all structures affecting the boundary structures and/or excavations within specified distances of an existing boundary structure. Unfortunately, the Act does not create a specific right of action where the requisite notice is not served.

2. Planning Acts
Unless the structure was permitted because of its size, planning consent would have been required. After four years, however, the council loses its right to take enforcement action.

3. Building regulations
Any extension, unless an exempted conservatory, must comply with building regulations.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP

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