With the summer months here, many of us retreat to our gardens to make full use of the sporadic sunshine and nice weather. We often use the time to make changes and enhance our outdoor spaces.
However, garden alterations can sometimes lead to conflict between neighbours, causing tension and ultimately impacting the joy of being able to spend time in our gardens.
Disputes can arise from many issues. This can include planting trees on or close to your boundary, installing a new fence or building a new shed. If such a conflict arises, an amicable resolution and an understanding of your legal position will go a long way in maintaining good neighbourly relations.
There is a variety of issues which can contribute to disputes over alterations. These, to name a few, can include:
- construction of outbuildings
- changing garden structures
- installation of fencing
- planting trees or hedges
Garden alterations can give rise to concerns such as obstructed views, loss of privacy, noise pollution, damage to property, or loss of light.
All of the above can impact you or your neighbour’s enjoyment of their property. As such, it is sensible to tackle these issues sensitively.
The first port of call is to ensure that you understand not only your concerns and interests but those of your neighbours. Without this, an amicable solution will be very difficult.
Solving disputes has to start with communication. As difficult as it may seem, opening dialogue with your neighbour to express your concerns and perspective on the issues will go a long way in ensuring that tensions do not boil over.
Furthermore, listening and taking on board your neighbour’s concerns are just as important.
Calm and open dialogue will form the best foundations that will lead to a compromise between all parties concerned.
Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
However, sometimes it is not possible to resolve matters using simple conversation. If this fails, you may wish to seek assistance with mediation or alternative dispute resolution which can prove to be effective methods at resolving neighbourly disputes.
Mediation includes a neutral third party, known as a mediator, assisting parties to find a compromise.
A mediator will encourage dialogue between the parties, find common ground and reach a compromise.
Alternative dispute resolution can include arbitration or expert determination.
Unfortunately, it is possible that the dispute is not resolvable by the above and, in rare occasions, neighbourly disputes can escalate all the way to Court Proceedings.
Understanding Legal Considerations
You must remember that any garden alterations must comply with local planning regulations and legal requirements.
It is best to familiarise yourself with the relevant laws such as permitted development rights.
Permitted development rights set out rules as to the types and sizes of structures which can be built without the need for planning permission.
If planning permission is required, you must ensure that all necessary approvals are obtained in order to avoid potential legal issues.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.