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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Southwark Council (London) Planning Department approved extension

Customer Question

Southwark Council (London) Planning Department approved extension to my neighbours property (in a Victorian terrace of 5 bedroom houses) which will be ugly, intrusive, and ruin the appearance of rear of the terrace which is just 22 yards from a conservation area..

1. My two local councillors planned to object - they were told by email from the planning officer on 12th September that the decision would not be made for a "number of days". They both submitted their objections on the 13th but were then told that they were time barred because the decision had been made on the 12th - after the planning officer had sent them the email.

2. The extension radically breaches many Southwark's planning policies and standards:
• Height should not exceed 3 metres. [The plans are for an extension of 5.2 meters – 73% higher than the maximum height]
• Harmonise with the scale and character and architectural style of the original building, and character of the surrounding areas. [Box/cuboid shape]
• Not unacceptably affect the amenity of neighbouring properties, privacy outlook and daylight and sunlight. [All these amenities to be affected]
• Should be a subordinate to the host dwelling. [It would be dominant, not subordinate]
• Use materials to match original house and surrounding areas. [Wood planking in a London Stock Brick environment].
• Generally, the rear extensions are to be limited to single storey in height. [The proposal is for a two-storey extension]
• Have roofs that match existing buildings in terms of roof shapes and pitches. [It would be a flat roof]
• Respect design and window features. [Not wood sash windows and the design of the immense rear window is inconsistent with local buildings]
• Additional floors in any form should not harm the architectural integrity of a building. [The cuboid shape is alien to the host dwelling and surrounding area]
• A daylight test should be used is where the development faces the affected window of the neighbouring property, which is the case here. The test is to draw a line from the centre of the affected window at 25 degrees, and if the development is higher than the line then there may be an unacceptable loss of daylight to the affected window. [The proposed extension fails this test.]

The Planning Department argue that they can ignore or interpret the criteria (formally described as "standards" in Southwark's policy documents.

Re 1 and 2 above, anything I can do?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Josh-2010 :

Thanks for your question. Please kindly RATE my answer when you are satisfied

Josh-2010 :

have you had the opportunity to inspect your title deeds please?

Josh-2010 :

From what you say will the new structure be within 3 m of any of your buildings?

JACUSTOMER-4i6w4p97- :

Dear Josh,

JACUSTOMER-4i6w4p97- :

Dear Josh, I have not looked at my title deeds. The new structure will be within 3m of my home. Regards

Josh-2010 :

Thanks - sorry for the delay in responding to you - I am not in proximity to a computer for most of the day.

Josh-2010 :

The first step to consider is the Council's formal complaints process; if you are not satisfied with the outcome of the same you can then ultimately refer your complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. However this body does not have the authority to force the authority to overturn any Planning decision though the LA will frequently respect the Ombudsman's decisions. The Ombudsman will look at the way the application was decided upon, and decide themselves whether this was fair or not. There are mixed reports of how effective the Ombudsman is at policing the LA but the process is free and some people do find the service effective.

Josh-2010 :

Your other option either from there or as an alternative is to appeal against the Planning decision through a process known as Judicial Review through a Court. You would need to prove the Council‟s decision was made incorrectly. It is not enough to show that you disagree with it. However it is an expensive process. Only those with deep pockets or of sufficient numbers can afford to go along this route. If you win then the council will normally be ordered to pay costs but it is if you are unsuccessful then numbers help because it allows you to spread the cost of the action between you. JR can effectively hold the local authority to account and a judge has the power to overturn a decision if he finds in your favour.

Josh-2010 :

Other things you can look at alongside the above:

Josh-2010 :

Consider looking at the Charges Register of his title. This is where any covenants will be listed if they exist. The title may refer to covenants being contained in another document in which case you will need to obtain this too. Each document is in the region of £3 and can be downloaded here:

Josh-2010 :

https://eservices.landregistry.gov.uk/pkmslogout

Josh-2010 :

"Find a Property" at the top of the screen

Josh-2010 :

You are looking for any covenant that might assist but principally these will be things like not to alter the property without consent, not to build closer to an adjoining property than xx yards and so on. If there is something there then the next step is to establish that you benefit from the covenant but before you concern yourself with this establish whether there are any covenants that might assist as above.

Josh-2010 :

Alternatively if you can show that you have a right to light over their land in your deeds or that you have enjoyed light over their land for 20 years you may have a right by prescription. If the development is to impact your light you may be able to obtain an injunction on the basis that it impacts your right to light. A common basic way to assess light reduction is using the ‘45 degree rule’. The 45 degree rule is often used to assess planning applications but is not used in legal rights to light cases however it is still a useful basic tool. You measure or estimate an imaginary line from the mid point to the floor at a 45' angle and the building should not cross this line.

Josh-2010 :

However the so called ‘50:50 rule’ is generally accepted as the appropriate way to measure light levels for rights to light cases. The 50:50 rule involves calculating the percentage of a room’s area which can receive adequate light. The calculations are undertaken at a working plane 850mm above the floor. A point on the working plane is considered adequately lit if it can receive at least 0.2% of the total illumination received from the sky. An injury is generally deemed to be caused where the area of a room receiving light from at least 0.2% of the sky is reduced to less than 50% to 55%. A surveyor would need to assist you with this calculation most likely.

Josh-2010 :

Finally based on what you say the Party Wall Act will apply to the development. If the development is being built within 3 m of your building or they are excavating within 6 m of your buildings and excavating lower than your foundations then the works fall under the party Wall act and accordingly you can instruct them to stop all works until such time as they have served a party Wall notice upon you. If they continue works then you can apply to the County Court for an injunction together with costs against them ordering them to cease all work

Josh-2010 :

They require your consent before they can lawfully carry out works governed by the Party Wall Act and if you do not give it they must pay for a surveyor to represent you and draw up a party wall award to address any concerns you have. This is not a means to prevent the build but it can frustrate it and ensure that it minimises any impact it will have on your own buildings.

Josh-2010 :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me. I will respond as soon as I am available though I anticipate this may be tomorrow now.

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