Woodford Bridge woman wins damages over 'nightmare' extension

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Helen Coughlan and the view from her kitchen window Helen Coughlan and the view from her kitchen window

BREEZEBLOCKS now greet the gaze of a woman as she glances out of her kitchen, after her neighbour built an extension less than a yard from her window.

Helen Coughlan, 50, of Highfield Road in Woodford Bridge, was horrified when Redbridge Council gave her neighbour permission to build the two-storey extension to his home in November 2010.

She was even more dismayed when he strayed from the original permission, increasing the size of the extension outside both her kitchen and lounge, and blocking most of her natural light. 

She said: “We have lived a nightmare with this development.

“If you turn off the lights in my house in the daytime you are in the dark. It is a very depressing situation.

“It should never have been given permission in the first place.”

She sued her neighbour, Tariq Ahmed, 44, who now faces a bill for £30,000 in damages and £10,000 in legal costs after settling out of court on the advice of his solicitor.

He said he now wishes the council had turned down his application, adding: “I don’t know how I will find the money.

“It’s a worrying time for me and my family, we only have enough money to pay the mortgage for the next four months as it is.”

Mrs Coughlan said: “I feel sorry for him in some ways, but my house has lost a huge amount of value because of this, and I have no choice but to pursue compensation.

“I think Redbridge Council has a case to answer because it ignored my right to light when it granted the original application.

“It should not be allowed to wash its hands of the matter.”

Mrs Coughlan has reported the council to the local government ombudsman over its handling of the original application.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The Council has received a complaint in relation to a Right of Light issue arising from a planning consent originating in 2010.

"The points at issue are under consideration and a full response is being prepared to the complainant."

Comments (9)

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2:36pm Thu 13 Dec 12

T. Watts says...

This whole sorry saga reads like a bad sitcom. What were the council thinking allowing this to be built??? Also, looking at the photo, how on earth did Building Regs pass such shoddy blockwork? It looks like a team of chimpanzees built it! Still, look forward to more awful stories like this, now that that public school idiot Cameron has relaxed planning laws in a mistaken belief it will stimulate the economy.
This whole sorry saga reads like a bad sitcom. What were the council thinking allowing this to be built??? Also, looking at the photo, how on earth did Building Regs pass such shoddy blockwork? It looks like a team of chimpanzees built it! Still, look forward to more awful stories like this, now that that public school idiot Cameron has relaxed planning laws in a mistaken belief it will stimulate the economy. T. Watts
  • Score: 0

2:51pm Thu 13 Dec 12

JackDaniels says...

Good for you. He should have more sense and consideration for his neighbours. Don't feel sorry for him in any way. He found the money to build it.
Did he not display the yellow planning application form before starting?
Good for you. He should have more sense and consideration for his neighbours. Don't feel sorry for him in any way. He found the money to build it. Did he not display the yellow planning application form before starting? JackDaniels
  • Score: 0

4:26pm Thu 13 Dec 12

Cornbeefur says...

If he cannot pay his Mortgage for more than 4 months he will get repossessed.

I hope the victims Solicitor issues him with a Statutory Demand and threaten Bankruptcy.

Sadly, he is saying he cannot pay and if it is repossessed, she will end up with a new owner next door who can carry on and a blight on her premises.
If he cannot pay his Mortgage for more than 4 months he will get repossessed. I hope the victims Solicitor issues him with a Statutory Demand and threaten Bankruptcy. Sadly, he is saying he cannot pay and if it is repossessed, she will end up with a new owner next door who can carry on and a blight on her premises. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

9:43am Fri 14 Dec 12

LakeBreeze says...

The ancient lights or right to light law should have prevented this construction from ever being permitted in the first place.

http://bldgblog.blog
spot.co.uk/2007/04/a
ncient-lights.html

The man who built this is breaking the law at worst, inconsiderate in the extreme at best. He should tear it down; it should never have been given consent.
The ancient lights or right to light law should have prevented this construction from ever being permitted in the first place. http://bldgblog.blog spot.co.uk/2007/04/a ncient-lights.html The man who built this is breaking the law at worst, inconsiderate in the extreme at best. He should tear it down; it should never have been given consent. LakeBreeze
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9:17am Mon 17 Dec 12

T. Watts says...

"...when he strayed from the original permission, increasing the size of the extension outside both her kitchen and lounge, and blocking most of her natural light. "

Surely grounds for the council to demolish this eyesore?
"...when he strayed from the original permission, increasing the size of the extension outside both her kitchen and lounge, and blocking most of her natural light. " Surely grounds for the council to demolish this eyesore? T. Watts
  • Score: 0

1:03pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Walthamster says...

Poor woman -- whatever compensation she gets won't make up for this.

What possessed the council to allow a two-storey extension so close to the neighbour?

How far beyond the permitted size did the neighbour build?

Does this shoddy workmanship even meet building regulations?

But most importantly -- as it's been built without planning permission, why on earth hasn't the council had it demolished?
Poor woman -- whatever compensation she gets won't make up for this. What possessed the council to allow a two-storey extension so close to the neighbour? How far beyond the permitted size did the neighbour build? Does this shoddy workmanship even meet building regulations? But most importantly -- as it's been built without planning permission, why on earth hasn't the council had it demolished? Walthamster
  • Score: 0

2:16pm Wed 19 Dec 12

SXH says...

He should be made to pull it down, or the council should demolish it and charge him.
He has reduced the value of his neighbours property, no one will buy her house the way it is, poor women having to live like this and having to take matters through the courts.

if he cannot pay his mortage then he should sell his property and pay Mrs Coughlan compensation she deserves.

Buildings control do not always check builders work if they have done work with the builder before even with planning permission granted (As it has happened to me)
He should be made to pull it down, or the council should demolish it and charge him. He has reduced the value of his neighbours property, no one will buy her house the way it is, poor women having to live like this and having to take matters through the courts. if he cannot pay his mortage then he should sell his property and pay Mrs Coughlan compensation she deserves. Buildings control do not always check builders work if they have done work with the builder before even with planning permission granted (As it has happened to me) SXH
  • Score: 0

1:08pm Thu 20 Dec 12

mdj says...

I'm a little surprised Ms Coughlan hasn't also sued the council, who have failed to take enforcement measures. So many things are wrong here: the neighbour had no right to build up to the boundary without her approval, for a start, and unrendered thermal blocks would never pass Building Regs

If the council did approve this, as the neighbour claims, it's a job for the Ombudsman . Their spokesman has dodged the opportunity to justify the council's position, which tells its own story.
I'm a little surprised Ms Coughlan hasn't also sued the council, who have failed to take enforcement measures. So many things are wrong here: the neighbour had no right to build up to the boundary without her approval, for a start, and unrendered thermal blocks would never pass Building Regs If the council did approve this, as the neighbour claims, it's a job for the Ombudsman . Their spokesman has dodged the opportunity to justify the council's position, which tells its own story. mdj
  • Score: 0

3:06pm Fri 21 Dec 12

lynlizz says...

Having followed this story since it first was printed I have looked on Redbridge planning site and all planning permission was granted for this extension and has been abided by.

This is more than can be said for the eyesore of a loft conversion on Mrs Coughlans house for which I can find no record of planning permission.
Having followed this story since it first was printed I have looked on Redbridge planning site and all planning permission was granted for this extension and has been abided by. This is more than can be said for the eyesore of a loft conversion on Mrs Coughlans house for which I can find no record of planning permission. lynlizz
  • Score: 0

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