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Ask James Mather Your Own Question
James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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In 2005 I was given permitted development rights to build an

Customer Question

In 2005 I was given permitted development rights to build an outbuilding at the bottom of my garden. This is used by my parents who visit from Portugal approx 8 weeks of the year. They visit separately. I am getting letters from the Council on a yearly basis (approx June/July) asking questions, ie. who occupies the annex, how many weeks is it used for, do they do their own laundry etc. I sick of the harassment now as it seems I get a letter everytime my Father stays. Do I need to keep answering the questions that are obviously only asked because of my neighbours who did not want me to build. NO-ONE PERMANENTLY RESIDES IN THE ANNEX. Do I just need a letter from a Solicitor to stop the harassment I feel I am getting?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

Hello, I am Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor in a High
Street practice. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008.
During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions
from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.

Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other
users, I might not always respond in
, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that

It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me
while I gather some further information from you in order for me to be able to
advise you fully.

Unless I have all the facts that I need, my answer
would not be accurate.

Do you have permission simply
to make an outbuilding or do you have permission to use it as a residence even a temporary one?

I need the full background details please as to
what the claim was for and who it was against Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The building was erected in 2005 under permitted development rights. The use of the outbuilding is ancillary to our dwellinghouse therefore planning permission is not required. A couple of our neighbours objected to full planning permission and still insist in complaining on a yearly basis, so we get letter from the Council. This has to end it has been 8 years now. What can we do please

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

Personally I would not waste
money on solicitors.

I would send them a letter
with the exact details they are asking and give them copies of the last eight
years correspondence.

I would tell them that you
will not reply to any more correspondence in this respect unless the answer is
any different than it has been for the last eight years.

Tell them that if they
continue to write to you in exactly the same vein (which clearly is a result of
reports from neighbours) you will firstly refer the matter to the Police with a
view to getting the warning given to them under the Protection from Harassment
Act and secondly you will make a formal complaint to the Local Government

With a covering letter making
a formal complaint.

Of course, if you want to
spend a couple of hundred pounds on solicitors, you can do that but to be frank,
I don't think there is any need.


Does that answer the
question? I am happy to answer specific points.

Can I help further?

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I am
offline shortly until tomorrow and will pick this up then if needed

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I feel as though my privacy is being invaded as my neighbours must be watching my property to know that one of my parents are here and watching their movement up and down my garden to the annex. What can I do about this?? It is nice to be able to chat to someone about it. I thought if the Council got aletter from a solicitor they may stop harassing me.

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

It will
carry more weight but it cost you a couple of hundred quid.

A complaint
to the Local Government Ombudsman is free.

It depends
whether you want to spend the money.

you cannot find out who has made the complaints because the Data Protection
Act precludes it. What you can do however is make an application under the
Freedom of Information Act as to how many reports they have received! That is a
different issue altogether as it does not involve personal data.

There is
nothing that you can do I am afraid about a "vigilant" neighbour who is just,
to be frank, like a grumbling appendix and a pain in the backside.

If you knew
who it was (you need hard evidence and not supposition) you have a claim
against them for harassment.


If you ask the police to bring a complaint, the police can get an order to find out whether the person was been reporting these incidents is indeed the neighbour .


Let me tell you now, that the police , although they are able to do that, are not likely to be the least bit interested I am sorry to say .

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you. Should we now apply for full planning to stop all this harassment. It has been 7 years since the building was erected, so can we apply through change of use? Do our neighbours have any say in this?

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

It might be a good idea.

The neighbour can only object
to the application on the basis of any adverse affect on his property and the
comings and goings of people (assuming that you are not going to sublet it to
holidaymakers or the like) is likely to have little effect on his property.

If you get it, it puts an end
to his shenanigans and if you don't, you are no worse off than you are now.

I would probably wait to see
whether I get another letter next year after my complaint.