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Handling planning permission & boundary disputes

Written by: Asiya Kaleem

Date: 4th November 2022

Are tensions running high between you and your neighbours? 

Neighbour disputes can range from minor issues such as nuisance-related disputes including excessive noise, boundary disagreements and planning disputes, an overgrowth of hedges or trees that block views of light together with disputes over who is responsible for shared amenities such as a drain, pipe, or drive.

Since the Pandemic there has been a significant increase in neighbour and boundary disputes accelerated to a new level by consecutive lockdowns, home and hybrid working arrangements.

Read on to find out more about what to do and what rights you have when it comes to managing a dispute with your neighbour about planning permission/ boundary dispute.


Planning permission

Are you (or your neighbour) planning on making changes to your home or a property owned by you? Things which people might need to get planning permission for include:

  • Extending their home
  • Creating a driveway and/or dropped kerb
  • Building an outbuilding
  • Putting up a conservatory 
  • Paying over a garden

The correct procedure for making certain changes to your home is to:

  1. Make an application for planning permission.
  2. The local authority planning department will then review your application and send out a notice to the people they think may be affected by the development to see if there are any objections.
  3. Once a notice is received you (or your neighbour) can register an objection with the planning department if you are not happy with the proposals being made. Simply registering an objection doesn’t mean that the proposal will be refused, but it is important to make your views known to the council.
  4. If you think that a neighbour needed planning permission to make changes to their property but didn’t get it, you can complain to the local authority planning department. 

It is important to note that planning permission may not be necessary if the works meet certain conditions, for example a smaller extension or outbuilding may not need permission. 

Informal resolution

We generally advise clients to first try and solve your problem person-to-person in an informal way, by talking to your neighbour. If you have any concerns about approaching your neighbour in person, you may wish to send a letter instead. Try to find out if any of your other neighbours are affected by the problem too and see if they’re willing to help in some way.

If your neighbour is a tenant in a rented home, and talking to them doesn’t resolve the dispute, another possibility is to contact their landlord for assistance.

If you have no joy by way of informal resolution, then the next step is to seek legal advice to see if you have a valid claim against your neighbour. On the other hand, if you are being sued by your neighbour then a Solicitor will be able to advise you if you have a defence to the claim. 

Boundary disputes with your neighbour

If you have a dispute with your neighbour over a shared wall or fence, then these are civil matters. The local authority planning department does not intervene in these matters. Instead, you will have to resolve them yourself by appointing a surveyor or seeking legal advice.

Disputes over hedges or trees

If you have a dispute with your neighbour over an overgrown hedge or tree then this must be dealt with in a specific way. Generally, you can trim branches or roots from your neighbour’s hedge or tree, but only up to the point that they intrude onto your property. If your view is blocked by a neighbour’s tree, the neighbour could take you to court if you cut any part of the tree that’s on their own property. 

How can we help? 

Our litigation specialists can:

  • Provide legal advice, determine your chances of claim or defence success.
  • Research issues relating to your dispute, such as property boundaries, rights-of-way, or amenity ownership;
  • Correspond with your neighbour/ neighbours representatives to try and reach an agreement;
  • Help you initiate mediation and represent you during the mediation process.  We work with a number of specialist boundary surveyors and other experts and have access to specialist mediators including the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) mediation service.
  • Help you decide whether or not to pursue your case in court, if other methods fail to resolve the dispute.
  • Help you complete and file paperwork and documentation relating to your court case.
  • Represent you in court, and present the evidence associated with your case.
  • Negotiate on your behalf if the case involves a settlement.

What evidence can you help me get to strengthen my case?

An expert boundary report by a chartered boundary surveyor or chartered land surveyor. We can instruct a Chartered boundary surveyor on your behalf to prepare an expert report. The surveyor will use various forms of documentary evidence together with historic physical boundary markers on the ground, when determining where the boundary lays. Documents include title plans from the Land registry. 

What happens at court: 

Each party present their evidence to a judge, who then makes a legally binding decision based on the evidence.

Contact our Litigation team

At Keoghs Nicholls Lindsell & Harris LLP our Litigation specialists will be happy to help you make or defend a neighbour dispute over boundaries, contact us on 0161 928 9321 or fill in our contact form and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

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