My neighbour is building an extension to his house and he has secured planning permission. The extension is now nearing completion and, to my horror, it seems much larger and the roofline is much higher than described on the original plans. I don't think he has consent for this huge extension. What can I do?

The reason why obtaining planning permission is enshrined in law when extending a building is that the local authority can decide whether an extension will do any harm or adversely affect a neighbourhood. The local authority use planning permission to dictate to the developer/house owner what they can and cannot do so that the development does not unfairly infringe on the neighbourhood, but is built in keeping with the ambience and look and feel of the area. It is granted with conditions the developer must comply with so as not to disturb or upset the natural aspect of the neighbourhood for the good and enjoyment of all people.

If some of the conditions have been breached in that the developer has built outside of the ambit of the planning permission and building regulation consent given it is possible the developer has committed a criminal offence. Breaching the planning permission is not in itself illegal as the local authority can often retrospectively permit a retrospective application, where planning permission has already been granted. Thus if your neighbour has built larger and higher than his planning permission allows, he can apply again to the local authority and have a retrospective planning permission granted.

However if the application for retrospective planning permission fails then the local authority can service an enforcement notice on your neighbour if they consider the building control rules have been broken. An enforcement notice could state that your neighbour has to put things back to what they were. If your neighbour disobeys the enforcement notice, he has committed a criminal offence.

If you are concerned about the size of the extension and that it has breached planning permission you can raise this with the local authority who will go out and inspect the extension to make sure it has not breached the planning permission granted. If the extension is built outside the limits of the planning permission granted your neighbour will have to apply retrospectively for a fresh planning permission. In the first instance I advise you to contact the local authority.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.