Our neighbour built an extension touching our home… now we have to pay HER £130,000 and she can keep it up | The Sun

Our neighbour built an extension touching our home… now we have to pay HER £130,000 and she can keep it up | The Sun


A MILLIONAIRE couple who sued their neighbour when she built an extension have been ordered to pay out £130,000 after losing their case.

Liz Peck, who runs a gender-neutral organic kids' clothing business, and her singer-songwriter husband Adam accused Debbie Ranford of "trespassing" onto their property in trendy East Dulwich, London.

They said banker Ms Ranford's extension ended just an inch from their own loft room – before the builder used infill material to join the two dormers together.

And the furious couple claimed the work left water leaking into their £1.5million property after a "big crack" appeared in the wall.

But a judge sitting at Central London County Court has now decided that although there was a "very minor" trespass, there's no need for the work to be demolished.

The Pecks must now pick up lawyers' bills, totalling around £130,000.

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Judge Simon Monty QC said the Pecks should not have taken the case to a full county court trial – and agreed that they had attempted to use a "sledgehammer to crack a nut" over the minor boundary issue.

During the trial, the court heard that banker Ms Ranford built the loft room at her two-storey flat in affluent Bellenden Road, south London, in 2014 after getting the green light from the Pecks.

The couple signed the 'party wall notice', meaning they consented to the work.

However, Mrs Peck said she was left horrified after learning her neighbour's builder had built on the boundary line to make the room bigger.

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"Given the party wall notice we had signed, we had no cause to check on the works," she told the court.

Mr Peck said: "It was quite a shock to understand and discover that something very different had been built."

The couple's barrister said the work was a "clear trespass" onto their property.

But Ms Ranford said the Pecks had consented to her building on top of the party wall.

She claimed the work to join the rooms was "unavoidable" and none of the extension is on the couple's side of the boundary.

Her barrister told the court she had offered £13,000 to settle the case out of court – but the couple rejected her white flag.

In his ruling, Judge Monty accepted that Ms Ranford's builder had explained to Mrs Peck that he intended to build on the party wall, but that she had not actually agreed to it.


However, he said he would not make an injunction ordering Mrs Ranford to pull down her loft extension because the resulting trespass was "very minor" and instead awarded the Pecks £200 damages.

"I entirely reject Mr and Mrs Peck's case that the trespass was cynical and calculated. On the facts, it was not," he said.

"It is crystal clear to me that Ms Ranford was the successful party here."

He ordered that the Pecks pay their own costs of £70,000, plus 80 per cent of their neighbour's costs, which were estimated before the trial at about £72,000.

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However, that amount could be increased as they will now be assessed on the stricter "indemnity" basis.

In total, the Pecks' final bill is likely to be more than £130,000.

Planning loophole means you WON’T need permission to build in the garden

  • Building a shed, a garden home office or a Wendy house won't normally need planning permission – unless the structure is bigger than 15sq m, can be slept in or take up more than half the garden
  • Boundary fences shouldn't be higher than 2m at a maximum to avoid planning battles. That limit is 1m if you live next to a highway though
  • If you're undertaking a big garden project like uprooting a tree or building a concrete building, you might need permission for the engineering work. Local authorities differ on their definition, so if you have a big project in mind it's worth consulting experts, lawyers – and possibly your neighbours – first
  • You shouldn't need planning permission to convert unused space in your home or garden – but keep in mind rules about adding external windows or doors
  • Permitted development rules mean you can build a single-storey extension – as long as it's no higher than 4m tall. All you need is a prior approval certificate, which costs £96

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