Persistence pays – an extension comes down

Following a long battle with a neighbour over an unlawful extension in Stamford Hill and the slowness of Hackney council to deal with the situation, a Hackney Planning Watch member can report that as of last week, the extension has come down

This is the story behind the long saga…

The story behind the post below! In September 2003 my neighbour erected what he had told me would be a “conservatory”. It was actually a giant and ugly rear extension, which covered two thirds of the garden and stretched the entire width of the garden. I was very distressed and consulted Planning, who informed me it was not a Planning issue! They finally decided it was the following year, after lots of contact from me, and in May 2004 their investigation finally got going.

In 2005 my neighbour submitted a retrospective planning application, which I contested. It was refused in February 2006. He was served a Planning Enforcement Notice in August 2007. My neighbour appealed against this, claiming that the extension by now had been up for 4 years already! As I keep a diary, I was able to contest this (very useful…always keep a diary record of everything!

In November 2007 my neighbour appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol. They discovered that in 1997, when these houses were built, Hackney Council had imposed a condition disallowing any further development at the site, as it was so small!

The Planning Inspectorate found against my neighbour in March 2008, because of the extension’s “overbearing impact” on my amenities. Following this, yet another Enforcement Notice was sent out. My neighbour responded by submitting yet another Retrospective Planning Application! Again, I contested this and it was refused in August 2008.

Nothing happened for a while, despite my constant phone calls and emails to Planning. Finally, a legal challenge was initiated and my neighbour was summonsed for non-compliance with the Enforcement Order. I attended court, gave evidence (again, the diary came in handy!) and my neighbour was found guilty and fined £500. Another Enforcement Notice was issued and again, not complied with.

My neighbour, whose family by now comprised 2 adults and 10 children, vacated the property in December 2009. He sold it to another family who bricked up the windows overlooking my garden.

I immediately contacted Planning again, who said they were unable to act. The new neighbour submitted an application for a Certificate of Lawful Development. This was refused in February 2010. The previous owner was summonsed again, but the case was adjourned until May, when I again attended court and gave evidence. This time the former neighbour was fined £1,000 plus half the costs. A fourth Enforcement Notice was issued!! This time the Planning Dept. also threatened Direct Action for the first time. Demolition should have taken place on 3.6.10 but on 1.6.10, the new neighbours submitted yet another Planning Application. This was refused on 30.6.10 but after this I heard nothing from Planning, despite constant emails and attempts to reach those involved by ‘phone.

In January 2011, I made a formal complaint against the Planning Department to the Chief Executive, threatening the Ombudsman and Judicial Review. I was then contacted by the Head of Development Management, who outlined plans for Direct Action. After some delays, a date was finally set for 22.7.11. Last week, however, I came home to find that the extension was FINALLY DOWN!! I was overjoyed and took loads of photos!

However, I have contacted Planning again to raise my concerns that,as the building materials (including the specially opening roof) are still in the back garden, the neighbours might erect something else and initiate yet another 8 years of constant emailing, ‘phoning, attending court etc. I might not be able to summon up the energy this time around!

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3 thoughts on “Persistence pays – an extension comes down

  1. Nice work! What a shame it takes so much effort and time to get something which is obviously unauthorised removed. Makes you wonder how many of London’s numerous extensions are put up without planning.

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