With new figures showing one in four homeowners planning significant renovations this year, Planning Aid is urging people to lessen the chance of over-the-fence disputes by talking with their neighbours before launching into major external renovations.
The first May bank holiday marks the unofficial start of the home improvement season and would-be renovators are being encouraged to follow Planning Aid's four-step Good Neighbour Guidelines.
According to a survey, conducted by Opinium Research, a quarter of homeowners are planning significant home improvements this year.
Local authorities across the UK are expected to make decisions on more than 140,000 planning applications over the next three months – a number of which may spark disputes between neighbours.
Planning Aid – a charity which provides free and independent planning advice to individuals and groups, who can't afford to pay professional fees – says the best route to hassle-free planning applications is to seek input from the people who might be affected by the renovations. The organisation is calling on home improvers to involve, explain, listen and compromise before formally applying for planning permission.
Planning Aid's four-step Good Neighbour Guidelines calls on homeowners to:
- Involve: Often disputes arise simply because people feel they have'nt been consulted. Involving neighbours early makes them feel included in the process.
- Explain: People are generally less likely to object to your plans if they understand exactly what it is you're trying to do and the reasons behind it.
- Listen: Your neighbours may have legitimate concerns or may be in a position to provide ideas for an alternative solution.
- Compromise: Sometimes a little compromise, early, can save a lot of hassle further down the line.
Planning Aid Operations Manager, Shereen Terrace, said: \"Often planning applications get bogged down because of avoidable disputes between neighbours. Talking to the people who live around you is the best way of addressing the kind of reservations, which can blow up into full blown feuds further down the line.
"Explaining your plans to your neighbours, listening to their concerns and compromising where possible will often attract their support. Adopting this approach is likely to make the application process easier, as well as improving the likelihood of a positive outcome.\"
Homeowners also need to be aware that they should contact their local authority before commencing renovations to find out what planning permissions they may require, under both planning and building regulations. If work is to be carried out near a boundary, it is a requirement for homeowners to inform their neighbours of their activities.