I have just received a notice from my neighbour to say they have applied to the Council to start works for a side return extension. I own a one-bedroom flat next door and will never be able to extend in the manner they intend because of the configuration of the flat. I am concerned that their extension will reduce severely the amount of light to my kitchen and bedroom. What is the best way to deal with this? They have proposed a surveyor, but surely I should get my own? Can one ever stop works? Can one get compensation?
You will not be able to use the Party Wall Act to stop the work. If you are concerned you should comment on the planning application – the planning department should have written to you about the proposals and invited your comments. If the injury to your light is severe a claim may be successful but broadly speaking the planning office use similar criteria to assess applications.
The Party Wall Act does allow for a single surveyor to act for both owners – they are referred to as the Agreed Surveyor. You are also entitled to appoint your own separate surveyor and their reasonable fee will be paid by the Building Owner. It just depends on whether you think you can trust the proposed surveyor to Act impartially as they are obliged to do under the Act – I would suggest that you give them a call for an initial chat and then make a decision.
The party wall act does make provision for compensation but it is relatively rare with residential extensions as the surveyors can only award such where there is a quantifiable loss. From the brief description you provide of your neighbour’s proposed works I think it unlikely that the surveyor(s) would be justified in awarding compensation.