Development of a studio built in a garden

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Chunga
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Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by Chunga »

Our London four storey house had a studio built in its garden by its first owner a famous portrait painter. It abuts our property and adjoins the pavement. For more than 30 years it has been derelict. The roof leaks and a buddleia tree with a 6 inch diameter has grown out of the wall where it borders our property. The branches of the buddleia have grown through the wall into our kitchen and damage our walls. The roots possibly grow to a great depth.

The studio was never intended or permitted for accommodation. Unfortunately it has acquired lawful residency rights through illegal occupation. It has been bought by a developer for many times its real value. He intends to turn the tiny bungalow into a three storey house with two storeys below street level.

Planning permission has been refused 5 times and two appeals have been rejected. Nevertheless the developer has excavated 40 tons of earth and burrowed deep below pavement level in absence of planning permission. He has ripped out all the beautiful Victorian features. His planning applications are for an address which is neither the address on Ordnance Survey, nor the address at land registry. The address would appear to be a flat in our house. But the studio has an entrance in a different road. He gives his home and business address at the Studio. But it is now a huge, deep cavern. Nobody lives there.

The council planning and enforcement departments show little interest at the moment, saying they cannot take enforcement during an on-going planing application. The developer says he is carrying out maintenance - 40 tons? No party-wall surveyor is active, because no party wall notice has been sent to surrounding neighbours. The building is likely to fall down. He has infringed traffic laws with unauthorised skips left on the road for more than 30 minutes and earth sacks blocking both road and pavement.

By using the wrong address on the planning applications, neither third parties who have an interest in the property eg solicitors, potential buyers, lenders, or potential objectors can find the planning application by searching using the right address on the council website. Council notices have been placed in the wrong street and the public advertisement about planning applications shows the wrong address.

He has already threatened to sue the Council. Previous High Court actions, over a loan, which he had received from a Greek psychiatrist, before declaring his company bankrupt; and a counter-claim for damages for an injunction of ten times the value of the loan, were dismissed. Each judge complained that much of the evidence was unreliable.

Councillors and the local MP are supportive and have rejected the slum development in the past. But the same plans with almost no change are just re-iterations of the same three storey house are being resubmitted over and over again. As you can imagine, everyone is getting heartily fed up with the whole thing, and the impetus to stop the development is waning over the years. The developer is counting on this.

What can we do to get the council to take effective action?
andrew54
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Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by andrew54 »

Contact your local elected Councillor. Get them to visit and see for themselves. Then the Councillor can persuade the officers to take enforcement action.
Chunga
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Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by Chunga »

Thank you for that suggestion. We have already done that. One Councillor spoke at a planning committee hearing and the planning committee unanimously rejected the plan. But the planners do not seem to take any notice. They have repeatedly allowed the developer to resubmit identical plans and taken no action. Either they do not seem to understand the law or they are not willing to enforce it. All applications have been filed under a false address, Flat A in our house, which conceals the development from lenders and other interested parties. This should result in these submissions being declared null and void, as it would do automatically in other London councils. But these planners have not responded. We are now talking to our MP.
ukmicky
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Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by ukmicky »

They can’t prevent the developer putting in repeated planning applications and it’s not illegal to apply for planning for land you do not own.

Party wall wise how close in meters to your foundations is the hole.
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
Chunga
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Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by Chunga »

Thank you, for the advice.

The hole which is now 4 metres below pavement level and at least one metre below the foundations of the surrounding buildings, is only a metre from them. No building plan or survey of any kind has been taken.

The developer has had two free appeals refused. Should this not prevent him from resubmitting identical applications?
Collaborate
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Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by Collaborate »

You need to make an urgent appointment to see a solicitor. Have a look at this https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... ooklet.pdf(I'm astonished you haven't done this already) - see in particular para 28 onwards. The court has the power to grant injunctions and grant other remedies (eg damages).
Chunga
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Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by Chunga »

Thank you for the advice. We have been using a solicitor who specialises in council planning. He used to work for a council. But he is not impressed with the legal knowledge of the planners at this London borough. They have told us that 40 tons of excavation on a 35sq metre plot is routine maintenance and refuse to act.

An injunction, we are told would cost £13,000, which we would be unlikely to recover as the developer has set up a company, which he could easily place into voluntary liquidation, if costs were awarded against him.
Chunga
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Buddleia tree growing into my wall from neighbours property

Post by Chunga »

For over two years I have been asking my neighbour to remove a Buddleia bush/tree which has grown ten foot tall, during this time. It grows out of the wall of a derelict property just near the boundary of my house. It has caused serious damage to he brickwork.

Some solicitors say that I just have to repair my own wall at my own expense. But this
obviously would not solve the problem.
mr sheen
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Re: Buddleia tree growing into my wall from neighbours property

Post by mr sheen »

Since you have sought legal advice from solicitors who would have been able to consider more info from you than contributors here have access to, you need to take the legal advice you have been given.
Collaborate
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Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by Collaborate »

Chunga wrote: Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:22 pm Thank you for the advice. We have been using a solicitor who specialises in council planning. He used to work for a council. But he is not impressed with the legal knowledge of the planners at this London borough. They have told us that 40 tons of excavation on a 35sq metre plot is routine maintenance and refuse to act.

An injunction, we are told would cost £13,000, which we would be unlikely to recover as the developer has set up a company, which he could easily place into voluntary liquidation, if costs were awarded against him.
This is not a planning issue. You have a right of action. If you choose not to exercise that right you must accept the consequences. Perhaps you should be letting your buildings insurer aware. Do you not have legal expenses insurance? You will be suing the landowner, so can recover any award of costs from the land itself.
ukmicky
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Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by ukmicky »

Chunga wrote: Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:14 am Thank you, for the advice.

The hole which is now 4 metres below pavement level and at least one metre below the foundations of the surrounding buildings, is only a metre from them. No building plan or survey of any kind has been taken.

The developer has had two free appeals refused. Should this not prevent him from resubmitting identical applications?
If it is that close to your foundations you need to be going to court ASAP and gaining an injunction ordering them to stop any work and to put measures in place to prevent any land slippage and damage to properties. Your costs under the party wall act will be borne by the developer.

An injunction also does not cost that much, especially where the law is on your side.

You need to understand your house is in danger, you could potentially end up ,waking up in your neighbours 4 meter deep hole .

Act now.
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
Chunga
Posts: 78
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:55 am

Re: Buddleia tree growing into my wall from neighbours property

Post by Chunga »

Thank you but the solicitors have provided conflicting and confusing advice. Very few solicitors seem to have any knowledge of property. One even asked whether the developer had planted the tree in the wall?

I prefer to read the thoughts of people who have lived through similar problems. Surely that is what this forum is for.
arborlad
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Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by arborlad »

You seem to have a deeply unpleasant and unscrupulous neighbour, presumably you have his full name and address?

As well as the injunction to prevent further works that could endanger your property, you should today, arrange to have the Buddleia felled and the root poisoned - it is only going to cause further damage.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
Collaborate
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Re: Buddleia tree growing into my wall from neighbours property

Post by Collaborate »

Sorry but your original post is unclear. It seems that a wall belonging to your neighbour has a buddleia growing out of it. What damage has it caused to your brickwork?

Is the land on which the bush grows occupied? Is there anything to stop you simply cutting it down? I know you're not strictly permitted to do that, but if your neighbour has allowed his or her land to become derelict they might not be bothered what you do to the bush. Would be far cheaper than engaging the services of lawyers.
Chunga
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:55 am

Re: Development of a studio built in a garden

Post by Chunga »

You are surely not alone in thinking this way about the developer, who has assaulted another neighbour and threatened to take off the head of the planning manager at the council. He has given false addresses for himself, his company formed to develop the studio, and for the property itself in all is planning submission. This effectively hinders interested parties from accessing the plans on the council website.
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