Thursday 9 November 2023

Removal of chimney stack resulted in near miss

In this interesting article we see why the Party Wall etc, Act 1996 is a very important piece of legislation.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Party Wall Surveyor Servces

One of the things have added to our portfolio of services is that of party wall surveyor services.

Registered with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and trained by the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors, we are construction professionals able to provide party wall surveyor services. As such, we are qualified to act impartially as the party wall surveyor for the Building Owner (the person/s wishing to carry out the works), the Adjoining Owner/s (owners of the neighbouring properties), and as the Agreed Surveyor (who acts for two or more parties). The Party Wall Act is about fairness; it exists to safeguard all parties and party wall surveyors act impartially to provide that safeguard to all parties.

A Quick Overview of The Act

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 states that you must tell your neighbours if you intend to carry out any building work near or on your shared property boundary, or ‘party wall’, in England and Wales.

The Act came into force on 1 July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales. The Act provides a framework for preventing and/or resolving disputes relating to party walls, party structures, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings and structures.

Party walls stand on the land of 2 or more owners and can either form part of a building or not form part of a building, such as a garden wall (not wooden fences or hedges). Walls on one owner’s land used by other owners (2 or more) to separate their buildings are also party walls.

Party structures could be a floor or other structure that separates buildings or parts of buildings with different owners. For example in a flat, maisonette or similar building.

When considering an extension or a loft conversion you are likely to be considering works covered by The Act, especially if your property is a terraced, semi-detached or otherwise connected. 

Anyone intending to carry out works that fall within The Act are required by law to give adjoining owners written notice of their plans. This applies to private properties, government, local authority, Crown and other properties. 

Owners can agree the proposal between themselves and this can include the manner in which the works will be carried out, timings, access and such like.

If a dispute arises in relation to works covered by The Act and a notice has been served then The Act and surveyors can be invoked to resolve the dispute. If no notice has been served then The Act cannot be used. No notice; no act.

The Act and party wall agreements are different from planning permission or building regulations approval.

Main Parts of The Act

There are three main parts of The Act that may need to be considered before you start works.

1. Line of Junction

Comes into effect if an owner intends to building a wall on/astride or up to the line of junction. Often occurs with ground floor extensions in terraced or semi-detached houses and bungalows. 

2. Party Structure

Includes all works to the party wall, party fence wall, party structure or boundary wall. This is very common place with loft conversions, removal of a chimney and such like in terraced and semi-detached dwellings.

3. Excavations within Three or Six Metres

Any form of excavations such as digging for foundations within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring building or structure, depending on the excavations or proposed foundations. In properties that are terraced and semi-detached this is very hard to avoid, even some detached properties are within 3 metres of each other.


As you can see from the above, many alterations to properties such as extensions, loft conversions, removal of chimneys and more, can fall within The Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Most people value the relationships they have with neighbours, who may also be friends, and therefore appointing an impartial professional to ensure that both or more parties are treated fairly can be an essential part of any building work.

For more information about our Party Wall Surveyor services see

Wednesday 31 July 2019

Planning Portal News - 31st July 2019

Please see below for the latest from the Planning Portal

LGA opens bids to tackle housing crisis
The Local Government Association (LGA) has opened its bids for the third year to tackle the housing crisis. 

The Housing Advisers Programme funds the provision of independent expertise for councils undertaking specific projects to tackle the effects of the housing crisis in local communities – including on housing delivery, planning for homes, and reducing homelessness.

In the previous two years of the programme, the LGA has funded more than 100 councils to help them build homes, reduce homelessness, plan for ageing populations, understand the student housing market and increase the supply of modular housing.

This year the LGA will support a smaller number of larger strategic housing projects. The programme will award up to £50,000 to each project for the purpose of securing expert advice in transforming how a service or partnership meets the housing needs of communities.

The best practice and lessons learned from each project will be shared with councils and embedded into the sector-led improvement currently on offer from the LGA.

Councillor Martin Tett, LGA housing spokesman, said: “The country’s housing crisis is forcing difficult choices on families, distorting places, hampering growth, and putting significant pressure on local services and council budgets.

“The programme aims to help councils deliver local priorities, and can be a valuable source of expertise to councils wishing to innovate and improve in their efforts to build more homes, reduce homelessness, and plan prosperous places and economies.”

22 July 2019
Prithvi Pandya, The Planner

Housebuilders told to protect wildlife
Housing secretary James Brokenshire has told developers they must to do more to protect wildlife in Britain.

New guidance sets out how the government expects developers to protect specific species, such as using hedgehog highways and hollow swift bricks (which are installed into the walls of new-build homes to allow the bird to nest safely).

The government says that builders should think about the long-term impact of their developments on the local ecosystem during and after construction. This could include creating drainage areas to create wetlands for bird and amphibians. Developers should also plant more trees and green meadows to give insects such as the British honey bee a safe place to thrive.

The guidance states that green infrastructure can help planning:

Build a strong, competitive economy.
Achieve well-designed places that feature green roofs, street trees, proximity to woodland, public gardens and recreational and open spaces.
Promote healthy and safe communities. Green infrastructure can provide opportunities for recreation, exercise, social interaction, experiencing and caring for nature, community food-growing and gardening, which can bring mental and physical health benefits.
Mitigate climate change, flooding and coastal change, by contributing to carbon storage, cooling and shading, opportunities for species migration to more suitable habitats and the protection of water quality and other natural resources.
Conserve and enhance the natural environment by facilitating biodiversity net gain and nature recovery networks, as well as providing opportunities for communities to undertake conservation work.
The guidance can be found here on the UK Government website.

22 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

M25 junction change to be examined by PINS
An application by Highways England for changes to the M25 J10/A3 Wisley Interchange has been accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.

The scheme comprises two Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).

According to the application form, the scheme is intended to reduce congestion, improve safety and support planned growth.

The M25 J10 roundabout and associated slip roads would be altered. The hard shoulder at J10 would be converted to provide an additional running lane in each direction. The A3 would be improved between the Painshill junction to the north and the Ockham junction to the south, including the widening of the A3 to four lanes in both directions.

The scheme also includes alterations to local side roads, the widening of the A245 Byfleet Road to three lanes in each direction between the A3 Painshill junction and Seven Hills Road, and a series of new and improved routes for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Highways England says there is an “extensive” package of environmental mitigation and compensation measures included in the scheme, including 39.8 hectares of replacement land proposed in exchange for the loss of common land and open space.

Sarah Richards, chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate, said: “A major priority for us over the next few weeks is to ensure that the people and communities who may be affected by this proposal have the opportunity to give us their views.”

More information can be found on the National Infrastructure Planning website.

22 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

MPs criticise lack of progress made on walking and cycling strategy
The Transport Select Committee says increased funding and more ambitious targets are required to promote the government’s walking and cycling policy for England.

The government published its Cycling and Walking Strategy more than two years ago but, says the committee, the government has not provided any significant detail on its progress in delivering it.

Therefore the committee recommends that the government should produce an annual report on the delivery of the strategy, setting out what progress has been made to meet its targets; to assess whether those targets are still fit for purpose or should be revised; and to decide what further actions are necessary to meet its targets.

The transport minister has said he intends to publish an update over the summer; the committee expects this to be published by the end of September.

Furthermore, the committee suggests that the government should revise its Cycling and Walking Strategy to include more ambitious targets for increasing levels of “cycling and – particularly – walking”. A draft revised strategy should be published alongside the government’s first report on its progress. It should be consulted on in the autumn and publish findings in early 2020.

In June, former Prime Minister Theresa May committed the UK to eradicating its net contribution to climate change by 2050, while the Committee on Climate Change has said more cycling and walking and less reliance on cars could help the UK to meet its own and global climate goals. The report urges the government to act on this by giving active travel the priority it deserves.

The report also says:

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIP) appear to be the main vehicle through which the strategy will be delivered. The government should assess how successful the LCWIP pilot has been in helping local authorities develop plans that will ensure the government’s strategy is delivered. If LCWIPs have helped local authorities prioritise active travel and develop plans for increasing walking and cycling at a local level, in a way that represents good value for money, then the government should be clear that it expects all local authorities to develop these plans, and should commit to providing technical support to help all English local authorities develop their LCWIPs.
Funding for active travel is “piecemeal and complex”, and the government has not given local authorities the certainty needed to provide active travel and make long-term funding commitments. The committee recommends that the government bring together the funding it expects to be invested in active travel into a dedicated funding stream for local authorities to deliver improvements, such as those set out in LCWIP. This new funding stream should make money available for resource as well as capital spending to both develop and maximise the benefits of infrastructure improvements.
Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Select Committee, highlighted that road transport is the “single biggest contributor” to poor air quality and is responsible for 80 per cent of roadside nitrogen dioxide concentration. Walking and cycling is good for people's health, saves on the cost of healthcare, can reduce congestion, and improve productivity. 

“There is no battle here – except for hearts and minds. In England, the vast majority of journeys over a mile are made in a car or van. Even for distances of one to two miles, more than 60 per cent of journeys were made by a motor vehicle and fewer than 2 per cent of journeys are made by bike.

“The government must stand up for active travel. It must show real leadership by setting ambitious targets for cycling and especially walking. It must give local authorities the support and funding they need to engage the public and make active travel a priority in their areas. It must do whatever is necessary to persuade more people to get on their bike, or ‘Shanks’ pony’.”

The report can be found here on the UK Government website.

23 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

London becomes a National Park City
London has been awarded the status of a National Park City, the first capital city in the world to be designated as such.

The declaration was made on 22 July by the National Park City Foundation in recognition of London’s open spaces, waterways and natural environment.

The National Park City Foundation was set up by the National Park City campaign group and led by environmentalist Daniel Raven-Ellison and World Urban Parks.

To mark the achievement, there will be a week of 300 free ‘National Park City Festival’ events across London’s green spaces, wildlife habitats, green rooftops and waterways.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s election manifesto committed him to making the capital a National Park City, and updating the London Plan to require ‘greening’ in new developments through an Urban Greening Factor.

At the summit yesterday, the mayor co-signed the London National Park City Charter, which was developed by the foundation. It sets out key actions to make London a city where people, places and nature are better connected and matches the long-term goals in the Khan’s environment strategy.

By signing the charter, Khan has confirmed that he shares the collective ambition, responsibility and commitment to deliver on making London:

greener in the long-term than it is today and where people and nature are better connected;
protect its core network of parks and green spaces,
rich with wildlife;
a city where every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors; and
a city where all can enjoy high-quality green spaces, clean air, clean waterways and where more people choose to walk and cycle.
Khan said: “I am proud to have helped London, one of the greenest world cities, be recognised as the world’s first National Park City. This status is a truly fantastic reflection of our vibrant and dynamic city and our amazing network of green spaces, rivers and natural habitats. We must do all we can to help tackle the global climate emergency and ecological crisis and address the decline in biodiversity.

“That is why I’ve delivered 200 green space improvements, planted over 170,000 trees, protected the green belt and ensured greening in all new developments.”

Raven-Ellison, who started campaigning to make London a National Park City six years ago, added: “London becoming a National Park City is something for us all to be proud of ... It’s about lifting our ambitions; going further to make the city greener, healthier and wilder; improving our mental health; cleaning our air; making the city richer in wildlife; freeing children to play and meet friends outdoors again; tackling the climate crisis and bringing more joy to the city.”

23 July 2019
Laura Edgar, The Planner

For more information go to

GBS Designs - Architectural Services

Thursday 8 November 2018

Shale Gas?!!!!!!!!!! WHY?!!!!!!!

Why are energy companies interested in shale gas? It's yesterday's fuel. Today's and tomorrow's fuels should be renewable not finite.

Government launches shale gas consultation
The government has launched a consultation that asks whether local communities must be consulted on shale gas proposals in England before submitting a planning application.
The consultation seeks views on whether or not developers need to publish any information that is needed.
The developers must engage with local communities and stakeholders, and listen to residents’ opinions, which would then be addressed before final proposals are submitted to local authorities.
The government believes this consultation will speed up the decision making process, which could lead to fewer delays when it comes to planning applications.
The deadline for this consultation is Monday 7 January 2019. It can be found here on the government website.
Prithvi Pandyam, 31 October 2018

Thursday 6 September 2018

Is building to rent a good idea?

The article below suggests that building dwellings to rent is a growth area.

Dwellings built specifically for private rent has been forecast as one of the key areas of growth within the housebuilding industry, according to AMA Research.

Analysis in the research firm’s Housebuilding Market Report – UK 2018-2022 notes that as well as attracting some of the larger housing associations, an increasing number of large private housebuildng groups are diversifying in the Build to Rent sector.

The focus, the research explains, is on investing in large-scale apartment developments in key parts of London, the West Midlands and the north west of England, which all offer economies of scale. This, AMA said, is being achieved through the increased specification of prefabricated building components and full offsite building systems, like modular construction.

The report also says there were around 258,000 new dwellings delivered in the UK in 2016/17, an increase of 13 per cent on the previous year.

“What has been critical to growth in net additions to the UK’s housing stock has been sharp growth in the numbers of conversions, which has been driven by government’s granting of permitted development rights for the conversion of empty offices into dwellings. Although there will inevitably soon be a shortage of empty offices suitable for conversion, we expect there to be a shift towards conversions of vacant high street facilities” said Keith Taylor, director of AMA Research.

“There has also been a recent relaxation of permitted rights concerning barns and stable conversions, which should contribute towards growth in the total number of conversions over the next few years”.

For 2017/18, it is estimated to be similar, with 280,000 new homes added to the UK stock.

According to AMA, growth in the house stock has been driven by increased activity in the private housing sector as a result of low interest rates, competitive mortgage deals and the Help to Buy equity loan scheme.

The research also notes that there has been a move away from one to three bedroom flats to four bedrooms, and more, in semi-detached and detached homes, particularly in the capital and the South East. The demand for flats remains the strongest in London.

While private sector housing has seen growth, public sector housing completions is still below government targets, the research highlights. This is put down to public sector funding cuts. In the longer term, AMA forecasts a more balance relationship between supply and demand due to the increasing number of housing associations diversifying into building affordable homes.

28 August 2018
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Having looked into this, it appears to be true and I can only ask: Is this a good idea? The UK is traditionally a home owner nation not a renting one.

Friday 24 August 2018

Party Wall - Construction

An interesting article from the Planning Portal:

Constructing Party Walls
When deciding what materials to use for party walls, consideration needs to be given not only to the performance of the wall itself, but also to potential heat loss through junctions with external elements. Using an energy-efficient material such as aircrete in party walls, in conjunction with aircrete inner leaves on external walls, can reduce heat losses at thermal bridges by as much as fifty per cent - the equivalent to the effect of adding 10-15 millimetres (mm) of insulation to the external walls.

Thermal performance
Since the changes to the building regulations Part L in 2010, party walls have had to meet strict thermal performance criteria. This is best achieved by using a cavity wall construction, where the cavity is filled with insulation material - a very similar design to the external walls.

Thermal Bridging
Thermal bridges occur where the party wall breaks the continuity of external fabric insulation – for example at junctions with external walls, floors and roof.  Heat losses associated with these thermal bridges can significantly affect the thermal performance of the house.

Using aircrete significantly reduces the thermal bridge effect at junctions as it has a far better thermal resistance than denser concrete blocks.

View a series of calculations to demonstrate this effect (external link).

These calculations can be used in the design of party wall details.

Acoustic performance
Another key performance characteristic for party walls is sound insulation – with requirements set out in Part E of the Building Regulations. Although light weight would not normally be associated with acoustic performance, the close cellular structure of  aircrete gives it excellent sound insulation properties relative to its weight.

To determine whether a wall construction detail will meet the requirements of Part E, reference can be made to Robust Details (external link). These are independently assessed design details that can be used in the design of wall constructions.

Robust Details demonstrate that aircrete party walls will provide the same level of acoustic performance as dense aggregate blocks, but with all the benefits of using a lightweight block.

To find out more about building masonry walls – including party walls – with aircrete, download this information from the manufacturer.

Friday 10 August 2018

Time to tighten the Green Belt?

In our green and pleasant land the question must be asked. Is it time to tighten the Green Belt? So as to protection the countryside not just for our generation but also for the generations to come.

In a recent article, Laura Edgar of the Planner wrote:

‘Strategic shrinking’ of green belt as harmful as building on it, says CPRE
Reviewing green belt boundaries as part of the local plan process should only take place in exceptional circumstances – but this ‘strategic shrinking’ of the green belt is as ‘harmful’ as building on it, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The campaign group’s annual State of the Green Belt report says there are currently 460,000 homes being planned that would be built on greenfield land that will soon be released from the green belt – or has been designated in local plans.

Of those houses planned for green belt land, CPRE says only 27 per cent meet the government’s definition of affordable.

Furthermore, according to the report, local authorities with green belt land have enough brownfield land for more than 720,000 homes and therefore “there is no reason for them not to be prioritising brownfield development”.

Because “one-third” of local authorities with green belt land face increased housing targets as a result of the new method for calculating housing demand laid out in the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published in July, the release of green belt land is set to continue, says CPRE.

The London Metropolitan Green Belt will be the “biggest casualty”.

Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at the CPRE, said: “We are being sold a lie by many developers. As they sell off and gobble up the green belt to build low-density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live. The affordable housing crisis must be addressed with increasing urgency, while acknowledging that far from providing the solution, building on the green belt only serves to entrench the issue.”

The government, Fyans continued, is “failing” in its commitment to protect the green belt, which is being “eroded at an alarming rate”.

It is “essential, if the green belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised, and green belt protection strengthened”.

The report features a number of recommendations, including:

National and local planning policies and decision should recognise the green belt’s wide variety of benefits, but focus on ensuring that they continue to fulfil their purpose by:
- Following through on commitments to strengthen the exceptional circumstances test by prioritising brownfield sites within the revised NPPF.

- Committing to establishing long-term green belt boundaries, to be reviewed no more than every 15 years.

National government should develop clear guidance for local authorities on housing requirements to protect designated land and support the creation of new green belts where local authorities have established a clear need for them.
Katherine Evans, partner at law firm TLT, said: “The latest statistics show that green belt land saw a decrease of less than 0.05 per cent in 2016-2017.

"Despite what the name suggests the reality is that little of the green belt is valued for its landscape and some is already developed for a multitude of purposes."

The CPRE likes to characterise the green belt as ‘countryside next door’ but the reality is that little of the green belt is valued for its landscape and some is already developed for a multitude of purposes.”

Evans highlighted that the revised NPPF makes it clear that green belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, while a planning authority must be able to demonstrate that it has fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting its identified need for development.

“Extensions to boundaries and building on the green belt are only likely where the local authority has already made use of suitable brownfield sites and underutilised land, optimised the density of development on existing land set aside for housing or has reached an agreement with a neighbouring local authority in order to take on some of its housing needs.

“While building more homes to tackle the housing crisis is one of the government’s main priorities, it is quite clear from the revised NPPF that this is not to be at the expense of the green belt. It’s worth keeping in mind that the drive to build new homes is taking place predominantly on brownfield and urban sites."

The National Community Land Trusts (CLT) Network highlighted that the CPRE report found that only 990 of the 7,600 homes rural communities need were built last year. To date, 840 CLT homes have been built, predominantly in rural areas.

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trusts (CLT) Network, said: “Community Land Trusts are thriving in rural areas. This is because local people have recognised them as a way to build the affordable homes that local people can actually afford, rather than more expensive homes.

“Many rural communities are coming up against school and shop closures that are threatening local life. The need for affordable housing has never been more serious. While many local authorities and parish councils are supporting CLTs to form and develop, we would like to see this going further.

“With local governments working with groups to find land there’s no reason why CLTs couldn’t help build the annual quota of rural homes needed.”

The State of the Green Belt report can be found on the CPRE website.

So what does this tell us? Our we about to loose our countryside?

The following is from The Week, whose late owner Felix Dennis was very fond of the countryside:

Why England’s green belt is disappearing at ‘alarming rate’

Housing applications for protected areas hits record 460,000 following relaxation of planning laws

Campaigners say most housing built on England’s green belts is unaffordable for first-time buyers

The UK’s green belt is disappearing at an “alarming rate” as the Government strives to meet targets for new homes, a new report has warned.

However, only 22% of the planned developments meet the Government’s definition of “affordable”. Tom Fyans, director of policy at CPRE, has accused developers of “misleading the public” over a perceived necessity to build on the green belt in order to help families get on the housing ladder, Sky News reports.

“The affordable housing crisis must be addressed with increasing urgency, while acknowledging that far from providing the solution, building on the green belt only serves to entrench the issue,” Fyans said.

What is England’s green belt?
The green belt programme was rolled out during the post-WWII urban boom, in order to “stop cities from sprawling and countryside being spoilt”, the BBC says.

Around 13% of English land - some four million acres - is currently covered by green belt regulations, including “scenic sites open to the public, such as the Chiltern Hills and North Downs”, the broadcaster adds.

England has a total of 14 designated green belt areas, which surround urban areas including London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. These special sites are meant to be permanently protected and are only reviewed in exceptional circumstances. 

By contrast, brownfield sites - land that has previously been developed - are often on disused or derelict land, but are often more expensive to build on as the land must first be cleared.

Why is the green belt disappearing?
“As recently as 2010-11, there was no net loss of green belt land in England, but the introduction of a new National Planning Policy Framework in 2012 heralded the start of a sudden erosion of the green belt,” The Daily Telegraph reports.

In the subsequent years up until 2017, 11,960 acres of green belt was lost - the equivalent of around 5,000 football pitches. A total of 37 local authorities have redesignated green belt land for development in the past six years, the newspaper adds.

Applications to build an additional 35,000 homes on green belt land were submitted last year alone.

However, the CPRE estimates that local authorities with green belt areas have enough brownfield land for more than 720,000 homes.

Why are campaigners angry?
Campaigners are unhappy that the Government is not utilising the full potential on the country’s alleged one million brownfield housing sites.

Although more than half of the housing development to date has been on these brownfield sites, campaigners say the “vast majority of homes constructed on greenfield green belt land is in higher price brackets unattainable to most buyers”, The Guardian reports.

“Only 27% of homes built or approved on greenfield land since 2009 fitted the Government’s definition of affordable housing,” the newspaper says.

CPRE policy director Fyans said: “We are being sold a lie by many developers. As they gobble up the green belt to build low density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live.

“The Government is failing in its commitment to protect the green belt – it is being eroded at an alarming rate. But it is essential, if the green belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised, and green belt protection strengthened.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing responded: “We are clear that building the homes our country needs does not mean tearing up our countryside.

“Last year the number of new homes built was the highest in a decade and only 0.02% of the green belt was developed for residential use.

“We are adding more certainty to the planning system, and our rule book strengthens national protections for the green belt and says that councils may only alter boundaries in exceptional circumstances once they have looked at all other options.”

Whatever the outcome it will require some truly radical thinking to solve the problem.