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The building work is now well underway at 161 Tottenham Lane (the former Hornsey journal offices, between Kwik Fit & the Arthouse). It has not started well.

The builders (http://www.ridesignandbuild.co.uk/) have knocked over our fence at their boundary, damaging it as well as some raised beds and plants in our garden which neighbours the property. They have dug right up against our border at a much lower level causing the soil from our flower beds to fall through.

The builders and the developer (Sonny Gowans) have sought to reassure us and promised to put things right but two weeks have passed and they have only made half-hearted attempts at fixing the fence. I have been in touch with the Council Planning department who did contact them immediately but it's not really a Planning matter now and I don't think there is much they can do, or perhaps there is?

If any one has had to deal with anything like this before any advice would be most welcome.

In related news, last week the Council granted permission for some changes to go ahead on the 161 development. The three houses will get third bedrooms instead of the original winter gardens, a balcony that was previously turned down will be re-added to the house that neighbours the Fairfield Road gardens and the footprint of the Tottenham Lane building will be increased.

Regards,

Matt

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Hi Matt,

Sorry to hear about what you're going through.

You are correct, I don't think the Planning Dept. will help. They certainly did not help us when our neighbor caused damage to our property, and this was for building works our neighbors did have planning permission for. My advice is to take pictures of everything and write to the developer daily. I would also get quotes from independent builders and ask the developer if they would be willing to provide a cash settlement. Do not depend on the builders to do any remedial work -  they do not work for you and there is no guarantee they will do a good job.  Finally, write to one of our councilors - they may be able to help.

Of course, you could also threaten them with legal action if this drags on and you may want to seek legal advice.  Do you have legal coverage under your building insurance?  

Unfortunately, I had a similar experience. My next door neighbors did a basement conversion and caused lot's of damage to our flat, including cracks inches wide in all our rooms and sticking doors. Even with a party wall agreement, we ended up thousands of pounds out of pocket fixing the damage - we literally spent months arguing over every single crack and, despite very clear before and after pictures we simply could not get them to agree that certain cracks were caused by their building work. It was obviously very stressful for us.

For the damage they did agree to fix, we had their builders do the work. Their builders resented the fact that they had to spend time doing the remedial work, and therefore they did a very poor job - for example, cracks re-appeared within weeks and they got paint all over our furniture. It also took them about a year to start the remedial work - this means we had to live with the cracks for a long time, again which was very upsetting for us.

The Planning Dept. refused to get involved. They claimed it was a civil matter.

Good luck. My experience has thought me that  our Planning Dept. is useless and homeowners have no rights when it comes to safeguarding their home against their neighbors' building works. You just have to hope you live next to considerate neighbors.

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Hi Ella,

Many thanks for your advice, really helpful. It sounds like you had an absolute nightmare!

Things have taken a more positive turn for me today. I met with the Project Manager and we have come to an agreement on the way forward. Following your comments I have asked that we use a third party to do the work to replace the fence and the contractor is happy with that. We'll see though. The difficulty is the difference between what's said and what's done on the ground... but I'm hopeful!

There is definitely something wrong with the overall planning and development process. The communication, as Adrian has pointed out elsewhere is awful and the documentation often impenetrable. While it might not sit with Planning I do think Councils should offer a service of some sort to support local residents and business caught up in disputes over building developments that the Council have approved.

Thanks again.

I asked the Neighbourhood Forum and came up with this "I was talking to a lovely bloke called Jack from the Artshouse cinema (next to the HJ offices). I think that they too have problems having building sites on both sides. Suggest Matt makes contact with Jack and sees if any lines of communication have been opened with the developer, the builder or LBH"

Many thanks Adrian.

Hi Matt, I'm no expert on these matters, but I wonder if the issues you've been experiencing come within the remit of the Building Control Department - worth checking out - www.haringey.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/building-control/...

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