As a trusted party wall surveyor, we always keep a close eye on the news from our sector. We know how important it is to stay ahead and note any developments, whether they’re from a regulatory perspective, something to do with innovative new materials, or there’s been a statutory change that alters the legal landscape. Here’s the news from the wonderful world of RICS surveyors.
Confused? Here’s a quick look at the Party Wall Act 1996
We abide by the Party Wall etc Act 1996, a framework for preventing and resolving disputes around party walls, boundary walls and excavations. But it can cause confusion. Here are the facts.
A party wall is any wall forming the boundary between two properties or gardens, whether it’s land owned by you, your neighbour or jointly owned. This can include things like building a new wall on or near the boundary, cutting into the shared wall, making it taller, shorter or deeper, knocking it down and replacing it, taking out chimney breasts or digging below its foundations.
If you’re thinking about having any work whatsoever done to a party wall the law says you must give notice to your neighbour at least two months in advance, provide full details about the work and the start date, and give them the chance to either agree or object.
If there’s a dispute, the law says everyone involved must either jointly appoint a surveyor, or appoint their own surveyors, who create an Award – an agreement about the extent of the work, how it’ll be done and when. If you don’ follow the rules your neighbour can stop to work via an injunction.
Our advice? Your best bet, to start off on the right footing, is to have a polite word with them in person and settle any concerns they might have beforehand.
Controversy over party wall agreement in Hackney
The iconic recording studio in Curtain Road, Shoreditch, called Strongroom – where stars like the Spice Girls and Chemical Brothers laid down tracks – is under threat from a proposed six storey office block next door.
The owners are worried that noise from the construction project, which shares a party wall with the studio, will wreck their business, making it impossible to use the premises for at least 18 months. Now there’s a 5,000 signature petition in the wind, signed by a host of music industry organisations and individuals.
Strongroom employs more than 100 people, and the owners believe it’s in real danger. They’re concerned that Hackney Council is more interested in ‘faceless expansion’ than the welfare of the business and the people who work there. One of the owners, Paul Woolf, has already spent two years fighting a basement planning application in Hampstead, this time trying to protect his other recording studio, Air.
Apparently the council’s planning officers have visited Strongroom to ‘better understand the likely impacts of the proposed development’ upon the business. This will form the basis of the planning department’s assessment of the planning application.
Don’t develop a party wall without an agreement!
As you can see, developing anything at all without the correct investigations and permissions isn’t worth it. Your project deserves professional support, and that’s what we provide for party wall agreements.