I need your advice regarding my neighbours and continuous harassment via false planning enforcement claims.
We recently bought a property and did some remodeling, all under permitted development. Paint, change windows, new boiler, garden office, decking etc.
One of our neighbours (will be the claimant) has a garden office built into the boundary and we built a garden office in our land leaving a small gap, also we went 5cm shorter than them as they build at 255cm and we did only to 250cm to avoid planning issues.
Both neighbours were happy with the process as the property was fairly derelict, and I asked them about the placement of my garden office.
One year after the neighbour started to claim our garden office was to close to his garden office, we got surveyors and they confirmed it is fully in our land.
A specialised solicitor confirmed there are no basis for any claim and we send the information to the neighbour.
This neighbour then reported to the council for all the work we did in the house... And a planning enforcement case has been opened.
We went through all the claims with the enforcement agent: Change of windows (permitted and FENSA installed) Gas (gas safe installed) Electrics ( NIC installed) Decking (permitted as is 15 cm max height) Solar panels (MCS certified and NIC installed, permitted) Driveway (permeable substrate and permitted) Garden office (permitted as max height 2.5m) Skylight (permitted as 15 cm projection from highest point)
Literally she made tens of false claims...
The last one is that we artificially raised the level of our garden 20cm and so the measurement of the garden office is not valid.
With all the COVID thing the enforcement agents cannot come and they asked for multiple photos that we send.
They confirmed they were satisfied the level was not modified but then they started to ask even more questions in terms of measurements of the outbuilding and ondulation of the ground.
Tired of this we commissioned a topographic survey by an independent RICS surveyor.
This survey confirms that our garden level is the same that the neighbour and also that the measures of our outbuilding are 250cm to the highest point from ground level.
We send this to the agent and he confirm he would recommend the case for closure and asked for a few days to write a final response to the claimant.
After 2 weeks with no info I emailed him and he came back saying that the claimant contested come photos, saying they were done after the building works started!! He asked for more photos from our side.
I send them and also the time stamps from the photos that confirm the claim is false. Also there was a worksite camera that filmed the construction and send those photos.
1.- Is it normal for the agent to disclose our photos to the claimant?
2.- Is it normal for him to change the decision based on the neighbour disputing the date of the photos, despite a surveyor report confirming the level in the garden is the same?
3.- As all the other claims are extremely easy to prove as just require a direct measurement, she is making a very complex claim of us raising the garden level. Why do we need to prove we didn't do it?
4.- The original planning enforcement letter came by email, and gave us 5 days to send photos. The letter did not mention any other option to appeal or dispute the claims in any other way. Is this normal?
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