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Woman calls for help from Redbridge Council over neighbour dispute
A woman is calling for the council to act after she claims a long-running planning dispute left her house damaged and unsaleable.
Helen Coughlan, 52, of Highfield Road in Woodford Bridge, has been at loggerheads with her neighbour, Tariq Ahmed, after he built an extension without planning permission less than a yard from her window, blocking out light.
Despite damage to the foundations of the house, Redbridge Council accepts no responsibility and is refusing to back her case, while Mr Ahmed claims he does not have the funds to carry out repairs.
Mrs Coughlan said: "My house is damaged and the council is not providing any help.
"Our house has lost £60,000 to £70,000 in value since the work and we cannot sell it.
"We are hoping to move out at the end of the year when my son leaves home but if the problem isn't sorted then this won't be possible."
"It is unacceptable that [the council] just wants to wash its hands of the situation. It has a responsiblity to sort it out.
"We worked all our lives for our home and all that is nothing now."
Mr Ahmed was given planning permission by Redbridge Council in November 2010 to build a two-story extension, but he strayed from the original agreement and increased the size of the extension.
In December 2012, Mr Ahmed agreed to an out of court settlement of £30,000, plus legal costs, which he pays to Mrs Coughlan in monthly instalments.
But damage to Mrs Coughlan's house has been left unrepaired, and both Redbridge Council and Mr Ahmed are refusing to pay costs.
A statement issued to Mrs Coughlan by Redbridge Council said: “We recognise this is a complex matter and sympathise with the situation between Mrs Coughlan and her neighbour, however, the council is satisfied it applied the relevant planning policies and procedures correctly. The ‘right to light’ is a private law right which is not, of itself, a qualifying factor when determining planning applications.
“It is an applicant’s responsibility to consider the relevance of the general law, including any possible rights to light and party wall issues. Any interference with such rights may make the applicant liable to private civil law action.
“During the building process, the council had to serve a dangerous structure notice due to concerns about the building’s safety and these issues were resolved at the time. There are still some outstanding building control issues that are being monitored by officers as works continue.
“One of the planning conditions is that the materials used are consistent with the existing building. This is not the case at the moment and we’ve met with both parties to try to agree a way forward so that the work can be completed.”
The dispute will be included in Channel 5 series Neighbour Disputes which is due to be aired on March 27.
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