I Want to Stop My House Becoming Terraced Again!

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

I do hope that you can help with a problem that is somewhat unusual concerning a property that I own. The house I believe was built around 1886 and  was the second property in an original terrace of 4 houses – therefore a mid terrace. Around 1941 two houses were destroyed by German bombing in the 2nd World War and this left my house as a semi detached dwelling. The vacant land to the side has never been built upon and only forming waste land until now.

The land was sold by the owners , the Local Authority, in 2008 and at the end of 2009 the Planning Authority granted permission to construct 2 new houses to the Developer to recreate the original terrace of 4 and therefore joining onto the gable end wall of my property.

There are serious question marks over the granting of the permission, the serving of the required notices and the validity of the application and I am taking this up with the Planning Authority. They seem to have recognised that mistakes were made and possible false declarations given in the application but are, at present, unwilling to do anything about it. I am continuing with my efforts to seek honest answers !!

I have owned the property jointly and then wholly for some 20 years or so and have always maintained the gable end wall and ground adjoining same ,even dropping the ground levels to help with a damp problem. I even pebbledashed the gable wall some 2 years ago.

The solicitors acting for the developer have now said that they are going to serve a Party wall notice on me and have indicated that their client considers that my gable wall is a party wall within the meaning of the act on the basis tha it was originally the dividing wall between 2 properties from 1886 to 1941. The wall has been an end wall without any building abutting it since1941, for a longer period in actual years than it ever had a building abutting it, I have maintained the wall and used the land abutting the wall for repair and maintenace of the wall and ground adjoing same for over 20 years as my predecessor apparently did.

What would your advice be on this since obviously if this is considered to be my wall under the act I have to give my permission for the developer to build against – if this is not the case he can build and my house will be a terraced one, not a semi.

Answer

While I sympathise with your problem you will not find the answer in the Party Wall Act. The question of whether the new owners of the adjacent site have a right to use the wall is a legal one. Once ownership of the wall has been established the Act will cover the building process.

Even if you managed to prevent them from using the wall they would just build a new wall alongside it (with no gap) – effectively making your house a terraced again.