Can We Withdraw Our Notice?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

I’m not sure if you are able to help but we find ourselves in a  situation that we are finding hard to get a definitive answer on.  We live within an area that is governed by a private land owner – a charitable estate. We are freeholders but instead of being governed by the council in terms of planning permissions etc. we have to gain permission from this Estate.
 
We have a deeply tiered garden and over the last year have submitted plans to have one tier excavated. After much debate, we have received the licence. We then realised that our neighbours would make the party wall agreement a very lengthy and costly process so revised our plans and created a design that came off the party wall. We are not excavating below their foundations and we are not infringing on the party wall, coming in off almost 1 metre.
 
We have been told that we didn’t need their permission and purely needed to submit notice that they then had 1 month to reply with any queries. Our neighbour has told us that they have now instructed a surveyor and they would notify us of their costs.
 
This is contrary to what we have been told by several surveyors but as our neighbour is an architect, we presume that he is aware of legislation. Can you shed light on whether we are obliged to pay their costs despite not needing a party wall agreement.
 
Answer

If you are sure that your work does not come within the scope of the Party Wall Act you should not have served a notice. I would recommend that you write to you neighbour immediately informing them that the notice was served in error and you are withdrawing it. If the Adjoining Owner’s surveyor has spent time on the matter then you would be responsible for his fee.

Follow-up

Thank you so much for coming back to me so promptly. This does seem like such an area for error that your advice is appreciated.