Woman calls for help from Redbridge Council over neighbour dispute

Helen Coughlan is not happy with the response of Redbridge Council

Helen Coughlan is not happy with the response of Redbridge Council

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

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.

Comments (11)

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10:31am Tue 4 Mar 14

cynicalsue says...

I really feel for this woman and it's quite dispicable that both her neighbour and the Council are dragging their heels at resolving this. The neighbour should be told to tear down the 'illegal' extension, not have the Council pandering to him to make adjustments.
It's really unfair and sets a worring precedent for the rest of us who abide by the law.
I really feel for this woman and it's quite dispicable that both her neighbour and the Council are dragging their heels at resolving this. The neighbour should be told to tear down the 'illegal' extension, not have the Council pandering to him to make adjustments. It's really unfair and sets a worring precedent for the rest of us who abide by the law. cynicalsue
  • Score: 11

10:48am Tue 4 Mar 14

T. Watts says...

Unfortunately Redbridge is full of people like Mr Ahmed who think they have the right to build extensions anywhere without a thought about the legality or their neighbours. Sadly the council seem happy to do nothing - which then encourages others to do the same.

Oh well, look on the bright side, we'll be able to rename the area Little Southall or Little Wembley in a couple of years time.
Unfortunately Redbridge is full of people like Mr Ahmed who think they have the right to build extensions anywhere without a thought about the legality or their neighbours. Sadly the council seem happy to do nothing - which then encourages others to do the same. Oh well, look on the bright side, we'll be able to rename the area Little Southall or Little Wembley in a couple of years time. T. Watts
  • Score: 6

11:44am Tue 4 Mar 14

mdj says...

' we’ve met with both parties to try to agree a way forward so that the work can be completed.”

But the building shouldn't be there at all! The council is colluding at the breach of its own rules.
This is surely maladminstration?
' we’ve met with both parties to try to agree a way forward so that the work can be completed.” But the building shouldn't be there at all! The council is colluding at the breach of its own rules. This is surely maladminstration? mdj
  • Score: 13

12:10pm Tue 4 Mar 14

Slodown says...

Unfortunately certain people are less inclined to consider their neighbours when constructing these building extensions.
I wonder whether they regard the house as not a home but simply something to make money on before they move to live elsewhere?
A shabby and unsociable attitude which will inevitably lead people to vote for more extreme local politics.
Unfortunately certain people are less inclined to consider their neighbours when constructing these building extensions. I wonder whether they regard the house as not a home but simply something to make money on before they move to live elsewhere? A shabby and unsociable attitude which will inevitably lead people to vote for more extreme local politics. Slodown
  • Score: 8

1:17pm Tue 4 Mar 14

COUGHY says...

A national journalist has made contact with me to run this story. This is the first statement we have read from Redbridge. Three senior planning officers came here 3 weeks ago. Now they are all banned from talking to me. The programme on Channel 5 has not been given an exact date yet.
A national journalist has made contact with me to run this story. This is the first statement we have read from Redbridge. Three senior planning officers came here 3 weeks ago. Now they are all banned from talking to me. The programme on Channel 5 has not been given an exact date yet. COUGHY
  • Score: 11

1:24pm Tue 4 Mar 14

MorrisHickey says...

Typical Redbridge Planning Department. About as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot.
Typical Redbridge Planning Department. About as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot. MorrisHickey
  • Score: 9

9:37pm Tue 4 Mar 14

westside_o says...

Talk about an injustice !

Flouted planning permission and damage to her property !

It's sad to say, but I think with the acceptance of £30.000 as a settlement, this may have weakened her case for further review.
Talk about an injustice ! Flouted planning permission and damage to her property ! It's sad to say, but I think with the acceptance of £30.000 as a settlement, this may have weakened her case for further review. westside_o
  • Score: 4

10:01am Wed 5 Mar 14

COUGHY says...

This is a completely different matter. This is in the hands of my insurance. The two cases under English Law are classed separately. His 3 years are up to finish the outside. While in his arrogance he chose to use unqualified labour, He therefore spoke to ignorant advisors and refused to then and now, draw a Party Wall Agreement. So why did Redbridge not use on the first round of plans the fact that this build was to imposing on us. Till May 2011. All can be seen on the council website. Even at the appeal in 2010. All my windows were said. I state. "Would not be allowed now. So were to be ignored". They went aganist the 45 degree angle. Redbridge do need to be held accountable.
This is a completely different matter. This is in the hands of my insurance. The two cases under English Law are classed separately. His 3 years are up to finish the outside. While in his arrogance he chose to use unqualified labour, He therefore spoke to ignorant advisors and refused to then and now, draw a Party Wall Agreement. So why did Redbridge not use on the first round of plans the fact that this build was to imposing on us. Till May 2011. All can be seen on the council website. Even at the appeal in 2010. All my windows were said. I state. "Would not be allowed now. So were to be ignored". They went aganist the 45 degree angle. Redbridge do need to be held accountable. COUGHY
  • Score: -2

10:34pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Concernedcitizen2014 says...

This all seems very one sided has anyone bothered to ask how all this had effected mr Ahmed and his family I doubt this extension was undertaken with the intention to cause these problems , if mr Ahmed was given permission by the councils planning department undoubtedly he believed that there wasn't a problem , there are always two sides to every story !!
This all seems very one sided has anyone bothered to ask how all this had effected mr Ahmed and his family I doubt this extension was undertaken with the intention to cause these problems , if mr Ahmed was given permission by the councils planning department undoubtedly he believed that there wasn't a problem , there are always two sides to every story !! Concernedcitizen2014
  • Score: 1

11:27pm Tue 11 Mar 14

lynlizz says...

if the council say planning procedures and policies have been followed where is the problem, she has accepted an out of court settlement that should be the end of it.
if the council say planning procedures and policies have been followed where is the problem, she has accepted an out of court settlement that should be the end of it. lynlizz
  • Score: 0

11:36pm Tue 11 Mar 14

COUGHY says...

None of the build has been signed off. The council have not stated the above comment at all. If your property had been damaged to the degree mine had. You would be moaning. Right To Light is a completely different case. The Planning Permission for the wall is now up and so therefore is in breach of the planning conditions layed down.
None of the build has been signed off. The council have not stated the above comment at all. If your property had been damaged to the degree mine had. You would be moaning. Right To Light is a completely different case. The Planning Permission for the wall is now up and so therefore is in breach of the planning conditions layed down. COUGHY
  • Score: 0

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