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Legal: construction close to a boundary

Shirley Waldron, associate partner at GIA, looks at whether you have the right to go onto your neighbour’s land during the construction process

It is often very difficult to determine whether walls built at the boundary are Party Walls or independently founded, but the implications are significant, both to the Architect and the developer.

For example, if the development included raising the Party Walls by one or more storeys, there would be a right to place scaffolding and support on the adjoining owner’s land or property in order to carry out the work.

If the walls were not Party Walls, there would be no automatic right to erect scaffolding, and the adjoining owner is under no obligation to grant a licence. The developer is therefore beholden to the Adjoining Owner who can also demand compensation for the granting of the Licence.

A Licence is a legal document outlining an agreement between parties. In the case of development, it can be agreed for access to the adjoining owner’s land for placement of scaffolding or hoarding; crane or scaffolding oversail or any other type of access by contractors for example to carry out work in connection with the development. There is no obligation on the adjoining owner to agree to a licence so in agreeing to grant a licence, there is often financial consideration in return. The terms of the licence will include design of the hoarding or scaffolding, the duration of the agreement, fees of consultants, consideration costs and overrunning costs. There will usually be a Schedule of Conditions attached and an undertaking to make good any damage.

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