Can My Neighbour Stop Me From Enclosing His Wall When I have Planning Consent?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

I purchased an old single storey shop in a conservation area, which adjoined the neighbouring cottage at ground floor level, and came with detailed PP to demolish and replace with a 2 storey 3 bed cottage. PP was granted for the first floor to also adjoin the neighbours cottage and the roof line/ridge to flow together. I have now demolished the shop and detailed plans have been approved.

As we have pictures prior to the shop being built of a similar 2 storey cottage on the site my Surveyor who prepared the Party wall award assumed the elevation above the existing ground floor was a party wall. With this in mind building control has been applied for and all plans virtually completed.

My neighbour has now refused to accept the party wall award and although agrees that the ground floor is a party wall claims that the first floor elevation is his and I have no right to enclose at first floor level. I would therefore be able to only enclose at ground floor but would have to have a gap of a few inches between the 2 properties at first floor.

My builder and Surveyor say this would create all sorts of maintenance problems and I would now have to go back and redesign my plans

My question is can the neighbour legally do this. My understanding of the Party wall act is that it is meant to make development easy and at present this is hindering it. It seems ridiculous that the neighbour can effectively stop the approved design and saddle me with a lot more costs.

Although my Surveyor has advised me that I should look at redesigning I feel this is bad advise and that I have rights to enclose on his wall, as having a gap does not conform to the original planning consent which may require me to go through the planning and building control process.

Answer

If the upper section of wall is not ‘party’ then you have no right to enclose it with your new building. You may want to add up the cost of the re-design, the additional building work and the other inconvenience and see if the adjoining owner would accept a lesser amount as compensation for enclosing – that may be his motive for refusing consent.

If you can prove that the wall is party then you have a right to enclose it and no compensation is payable. If the adjoining owner’s cottage was one of a pair then the dividing wall is likely to be a party wall and that would not have changed when one of the properties was demolished and replaced with the single storey shop.