One of the most common hindrances to building a home extension that we come across is the dreaded neighbourly objection. Everything seems great; you’ve considered the impact of your new building on your neighbours’ property and their immediate spacial needs and in your head, you are ready to build. Unfortunately, you haven’t pre-warned your neighbours and subsequently, through the mail, you receive a vote of no confidence in the form of an objection. Darn it.
The reason why People Object:
There are many valid reasons why neighbours may choose to object to your building plans:
- They may fear a loss of light or overshadowing.
- They may feel that there will be a loss of privacy.
- They may be worried that they will lose trees.
- They may be concerned about the design, appearance and materials of your new extension.
- They may be worried that your new extension may cause additional noise or disturbance e.g. You may be wanting to build a music studio at the end of your house.
However, there are also reasons that are sometimes raised which have little to do with any planning considerations:
- A neighbour may be worried about a perceived loss of property value.
- You might be having a private dispute with a neighbour over something else.
- A neighbour may have determined that there will be loss of a view.
- An objection is raised due to a neighbour’s personal or moral views on you.
However, the most common basis of objections we have experienced is around neighbours not being able to understand the building plans and therefore, by default, just objecting to them. This is true as building plans without explanation can be difficult to comprehend.
Reducing the Probability of Objection:
Although not compulsory, we advise that you make your neighbours aware of your intentions to build before submitting a planning application. For most planning applications the council will write to homeowners in the near vicinity informing them of your planning application. Once received, a neighbour then has the opportunity to write back to the council with any comments about or objections they have to the plans.
By taking the courtesy to inform your neighbours prior to them receiving the formal council notification you may be able to put their mind at ease by explaining your plans. It also provides an opportunity to make minor adjustments to your drawings before you submit your application to the Planning Department. Taking such action can significantly decrease the probability of any neighbours objecting to your extension plans.
Finally, this is a true story.
Recently, a potential client came to us wanting to build an energy-efficient extension on their current home. As the process was progressing some reservations came to light. Following further discussion, they said to us,
“I am afraid that our neighbours are probably going to object to our plans”.
Having seen the plans and determined that the proposed extension would have no detrimental impact on the neighbours’ property or lifestyle we queried why they thought such action would be taken,
“Because a few years ago we objected to them building an extension on their home”.
And the reason? They did not understand the building plans and so objected by default.
Our advice, therefore, is that if you are going to object to a neighbour’s building plans make sure you have valid reasons otherwise one day your ill-advised objection may just come back and bite you.