A partly completed four bedroomed house in Walsall, West Midlands has been deemed “unacceptable” by the local authority. The house at 117 Sandringham Avenue, Willenhall, was built by Gurwinder Singh to replace the modest property in which he already lived, almost doubling its size.
Mr Singh had been granted planning permission to build an extension to the existing 1960s semi-detached home. However, he took it upon himself to demolish the existing building, and failed to apply for planning permission before starting work on the new building in 2021. He justified this oversight by claiming that the revisions to the permitted building work would have a positive impact on the area.
However, after submitting a retrospective planning application for the new building, neighbours sent a 95 signature petition to the council complained about the size and impact of the building. Some complaining that they had suffered “hardship” and the planning committee agreed that the new house was to the detriment of the adjoining neighbour, whose home had suffered visible cracks in the walls.
Planning officials said that for Mr Singh to make alterations to what he had already built would “prolong the disruption” and the fact that no other solution could be agreed meant that the only recourse deemed “proportionate and reasonable” was for Mr Singh to demolish the building. The council voted unanimously to support of the planning officer’s decision and issued him with an enforcement notice.
Chairman Mike Bird said: “I am sick and tired of seeing breaches of planning regulations around the borough because people think ‘I do that because I can’.”
He may have been referring to another property, in Walstead Road, in the Fullabrook area of Walsall, where a house was partially built without planning permission. Planning permission had been granted in 2018 for a two-storey side extension, single storey front extension and loft conversion. However, the owners took it upon themselves to change their plans and in 2019 began replacing the existing structure with a larger building.
Building was stopped when an enforcement notice was issued, leaving it not watertight, with an unfinished roof, unfilled window holes and building materials strewn unsafely around the site. Rainwater was running off the roof into the neighbour’s bedroom.
Having failed to act on the legal notice, the council announced it would taken steps to demolish the building using its own contractors. The owners of property has subsequently agreed to begin the demolition themselves.
Mr Bird said: “The planning system exists to protect us all and prevent the building of unregulated and unsafe structures. Whilst this is a last resort measure, the neighbours in this case have had to endure years of misery and uncertainty and I hope this action will now resolve the matter.”
Party Wall etc Act 1996
If you’re in need of Party Wall advice, contact your local independent Chartered Surveyor who will be able to carry out a Party Wall survey and provide you with an award. Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, every ‘adjoining owner’ is subject to the provisions of the Act, when one person carries out work on their home.
In a typical domestic property scenario this is usually limited to one or two parties. Larger commercial developments can encompass many freehold buildings and tenanted properties. The notices and recording of condition should always follow the protocol of the Party Wall Acts. A Chartered Surveyor usually acts for:
- the party carrying out the building works;
- as joint surveyors acting to make sure matters are appropriately dealt with; or
- for the neighbouring property owners to protect their interests.