Historic Retaining Wall

Historic Retaining Wall

Postby Gingertubbs » Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:55 pm

I am hoping you could give advice on the following:
We live in a 300 year old cottage and have a retaining wall between us and our neighbour - the wall is holding back our garden which is approximately 3ft above his garden level. We are doing some work to the cottage and garden and subsequently uncovered the wall.. and found the neighbour has built brick piers and added old wooden doors to make a covered walkway attached to his bungalow. We have always believed that we are responsible for the wall... a legend passed on by other neighbours and the bungalows previous owner... and have in the past advised that the wall be treated with care and respect! Its construction is very odd... full of rubble, bricks and stones.
The neighbours bungalow has been built on what has always been known as the animal pound and the retaining wall is the pound wall.

We were going to build a new wall in front of the pound wall to add further support and put in some post to attach fencing to.. so as not to add any weight or strain on the pound wall. When we bought the property some 22 years ago there was a rusty wire fencing and lightweight rods set in the middle of the pound wall and we replaced like for like several years back (as we believed the wall and fence to be our responsibility). Most of this fence and rods have been pulled out by the neighbour and left hanging as his 'building' now covers the whole top of the wall.

I have checked through as many deeds of our cottage as I can find and I cannot find any mention of the pound wall... in fact I cannot find any mention of any boundaries! The description is always of ...'brick and tiled cottage, kitchen gardens and outbuildings'.

Before we do any more work to the wall area we must establish ownership and/or responsibility for the pound wall... does anyone have any suggestions of what we can do?
Gingertubbs
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:18 pm

Ads are not endorsed by www.gardenlaw.co.uk or the staff thereof and visitors should perform their own due diligence on the product or service offered.
 

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:35 pm

Hi Gingertubbs,

your cottage is 300 years old
the animal pound was constructed?

assuming the animal pound was constructed less than 300 years ago it might well be the case that the wall was built when they levelled the site for the pound - i.e. it is not your wall.

(indeed you refer to it as the pound wall...)

you need to establish the order of events and which necessitated the construction of the wall - see my example above.

"legend" isn't good enough.

Kind regards, Mac
MacadamB53
 
Posts: 6071
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:13 am

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby COGGY » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:28 pm

Hi

I think it may be wise to take plenty of photos of the present situation. If the wall needs attention in future the neighbour may well decide to then claim it is your wall. Therefore while you are investigating the situation I would advise taking plenty of photos. Do you have any details of the property from the time you purchased? Either from the sales particulars or from any survey that you requested or if applicable your Building Society requested.

Kind regards
Coggy
COGGY
 
Posts: 1355
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:58 pm

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby Gingertubbs » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:52 pm

Hi Coggy, Thanks for your reply... I have quite a few conveyances dating from 1880s when our cottage was part of the local estate...but nothing on them relate to any of the boundaries.. let alone the pound wall. Macs' suggestion that our property came first and the pound afterwards may be right... the property on the other side of us was the Game Keepers cottage, ours was a small barn (but we can't find out the exact date when it changed to become a cottage) the parcel of land commonly known as being the pound was between us and another old cottage... this last one was owned by the bungalows previous owners ... the pound had become unused so they 'absorbed' it over time into their garden and then eventually built the bungalow!.... If gives food for thought that the wall belongs to the bungalow. We will ask the present owners if they have any details on their deeds... if not I shall ask the present owner of the Big House that used to own most of the village... I am sure he will have some details ... and maybe even if the required dates of pound building and our cottages' change of use!
Gingertubbs
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:18 pm

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby Collaborate » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:49 pm

Have a look at the party wall between the 2 houses. Is the back garden square against the back of the house? Sometimes the boundary between 2 properties is a straight line, continuing the line of the internal dividing wall.
Collaborate
 
Posts: 1153
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:17 am

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:55 pm

Collaborate wrote:Have a look at the party wall between the 2 houses. Is the back garden square against the back of the house? Sometimes the boundary between 2 properties is a straight line, continuing the line of the internal dividing wall.
Hi Collaborate,

the OP and neighbour live in detached bungalows, so there is no internal dividing wall...

Kind regards, Mac
MacadamB53
 
Posts: 6071
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:13 am

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby Geometer » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:01 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:assuming the animal pound was constructed less than 300 years ago it might well be the case that the wall was built when they levelled the site for the pound - i.e. it is not your wall.


This seems unlikely, although not impossible. Most village pounds were built in the 16th and 17th centuries; some date back to the Middle Ages, but few were built post-C17, and the practice of impounding stray animals largely died out following the Enclosure Acts of C18/C19. The OP's cottage is "300 years old", which makes it early C18; it may yet prove to be an exception, but the balance of probabilities would suggest that the pound ante-dates the cottage by a century or more.

The presence of brickwork in the wall is intriguing. If they are machine-made, this suggests that some serious structural or repair work to the wall has been undertaken some time post-1855 (the date when brick production was mechanised in the UK); if, however, they are hand-made, this would raise a raft of possibilities ranging from: " a nearby building, possibly Tudor, has been demolished and the bricks re-used to build/repair the retaining wall" to "the retaining wall was formerly freestanding, of some antiquity, and could even be Roman in origin " (unlikely, but not impossible).

I'd like to suggest the following scenario:

1. The village pound is constructed in C16/C17, or earlier, with freestanding boundary walls around 2m in height.
2. The OP's cottage is constructed early C18, on land raised above the original ground surface, using the existing pound wall as the retaining wall.
3. The upper courses of the pound wall, above the OP's ground level, are demolished or collapse some time post-cottage construction; and repairs, or a sequence of repairs, to the remaining courses are carried out into modern times.

Alternative scenarios could be constructed, but the above seems the simplest explanation for the facts given so far.

@ Gingertubbs:

The general presumption, when determining ownership of a retaining wall, is that when the land has been raised and the retaining wall built specifically to support the raised land, then ownership, and responsibility for upkeep, of the retaining wall lies with the owner of the raised land; alternatively, if the land has been excavated, and the retaining wall built to support the exposed uphill face, responsibility for the wall lies with the owner of the lower land.

The situation is much less straightforward if it is possible that the retaining wall pre-dates any construction/excavation. Given the facts stated, if your neighbour actually occupies (part of) the land that was formerly the village pound, then his claim to own the retaining wall is plausible at least.

You need to do more research. In addition to the measures you've proposed, it might be worth trying to get a local history society involved. It would also be interesting to see any photos/aerial photos/plans you might have.

NB. You can download your neighbours' deeds from the Land Registry for a small fee.
Geometer
 
Posts: 203
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:23 pm
Location: Suffolk

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:12 pm

Hi Geometer,

The general presumption, when determining ownership of a retaining wall, is that when the land has been raised and the retaining wall built specifically to support the raised land, then ownership, and responsibility for upkeep, of the retaining wall lies with the owner of the raised land; alternatively, if the land has been excavated, and the retaining wall built to support the exposed uphill face, responsibility for the wall lies with the owner of the lower land.

A "general presumption" is not the same as a "legal presumption" so why mention it?

Whoever owns the wall is not responsible for it's upkeep and is perfectly entitled to let it fall into a state of disrepair.

Kind regards, Mac
edit: could you point me to reliable source where I can find out about few animal pounds being built post-C17?
MacadamB53
 
Posts: 6071
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:13 am

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby stufe35 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:01 pm

Whoever owns the wall is not responsible for it's upkeep and is perfectly entitled to let it fall into a state of disrepair.

Mac,

Are you sure this is the case for a retaining wall built to retain someone else's land ?

I have no knowledge in this area...but it just doesn't seem logical...and usually the law is quite logical.

Cheers. Stu
stufe35
 
Posts: 790
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:06 pm

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:45 pm

Hi stu,

if I own the land on which the wall stands and it retains my land and I leave the wall to fall into a state of disrepair then so what?
if I own the land on which the wall stands and my neighbour's land benefits from some support and I leave the wall to fall into a state of disrepair then so what?

I am liable for any trespass or damage caused by my collapsed wall (and land if mine was retained) but nothing more.

Kind regards, Mac
MacadamB53
 
Posts: 6071
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:13 am

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby stufe35 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:59 pm

Mac, i'm not fully clear on this ...

If I lower the land on my property and build a retaining wall at the boundary to hold back my neighbours land...that wall subsequently collapses due to my lack of maintenance, my neighbours land falls away removing the support to his house foundations and his house collapses.

Will I be held responsible for the damage to the house ?
Last edited by stufe35 on Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
stufe35
 
Posts: 790
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:06 pm

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby arborlad » Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:07 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi stu,

if I own the land on which the wall stands and it retains my land and I leave the wall to fall into a state of disrepair then so what?
if I own the land on which the wall stands and my neighbour's land benefits from some support and I leave the wall to fall into a state of disrepair then so what?

I am liable for any trespass or damage caused by my collapsed wall (and land if mine was retained) but nothing more.

Kind regards, Mac



You've failed to grasp who lowered or raised what, plus whatever right of support they may have had.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
arborlad
 
Posts: 7413
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2006 6:30 pm
Location: Hertfordshire

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby Geometer » Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:14 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:A "general presumption" is not the same as a "legal presumption" so why mention it?

I'm aware of the distinction. I mentioned it because:
a) Unusually for this site, nobody else has, and I thought the OP would like to know.
b) Under "normal" circumstances, that presumption would place the onus of proof-of-ownership on the neighbour rather than the OP.
c) It highlights that the OP's circumstances may not be "normal", inasmuch as his retaining wall may not have been built as such, that it may pre-date his cottage's construction and have been inappropriately re-used to retain his land (which would explain the peculiarities of construction he describes), and his neighbour might actually have a legitimate claim to the wall.

MacadamB53 wrote:Whoever owns the wall is not responsible for it's upkeep and is perfectly entitled to let it fall into a state of disrepair.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not the case that, if a retaining wall between neighbours is involved, the non-wall-owning party has some rights - i.e. the "right to support" if your downhill neighbour has excavated; and the "right" to be protected from landslides, or whatever, if your uphill neighbour has embanked; and do these "rights" not confer some legal obligations on the owner?
MacadamB53 wrote:
Kind regards, Mac
edit: could you point me to reliable source where I can find out about few animal pounds being built post-C17?

I don't know how reliable you consider Wikipedia, but I see no reason to doubt its veracity in this instance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_pound

There are exceptions, they were still building "sheepfolds" in the Yorkshire Dales late C19/early C20, I believe. If the OP lives in the Dales, I'll reconsider my views :wink:
Geometer
 
Posts: 203
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:23 pm
Location: Suffolk

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby ukmicky » Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:26 pm

stufe35 wrote:I'm not fully clear on this ...

If I lower the land on my property and build a retaining wall at the boundary to hold back my neighbours land...that wall subsequently collapses due to my lack of maintenance, my neighbours land falls away removing the support to his house foundations and his house collapses.

Will I be held responsible for the damage to the house ?


If you lower the land yes you will be liable unless you have come to some form of agreement with the neighbours that removes your liability for removing the neighbouring lands natural lateral support. Such as compensation with no covenant imposing a burden of maintenance on you. In these circumstances they will gain an easement of support which automatically gives them a right of maintenance and access .

If you bought your house from the person who lowered it then the answer is no as you do not become responsible for his legal wrongs and nuisance caused by the previous owner when he removed the neighbouring lands natural lateral support.

Things change however if it is shown to be a party wall, which can be the case with retaining walls
Last edited by ukmicky on Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
ukmicky
 
Posts: 4566
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:13 pm
Location: London

Re: Historic Retaining Wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:02 am

Hi Geometer,

any right to support comes with an ancillary right to maintain - so if the wall starts crumbling and you want to keep benefiting then you can repair - you cannot, however, demand that your neighbour do it for you.

the Wikipedia content about pounds in England does not corroborate you're claim:

"By the 16th century most villages and townships would have had a pound. Most of what remains today would date from the 16th and 17th centuries."

Kind regards, Mac
MacadamB53
 
Posts: 6071
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:13 am

Ads are not endorsed by www.gardenlaw.co.uk or the staff thereof and visitors should perform their own due diligence on the product or service offered.
 
Next

Return to Walls

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests