Legal battle puts dream home at risk

A change of use of land can impact upon the use and extent of easements.

In this case reported in the national press, a homeowner claimed her enjoyment of horse riding would be adversely affected by more traffic using her driveway to access new homes being built on neighbouring land.  The neighbouring landowner objected to the claim, saying that he benefitted from a right of way over the homeowner’s driveway ‘for all time and all purposes’.

In 2021, the homeowner was awarded an interim injunction to ban construction vehicles from using the driveway.  The neighbouring landowner simply created another access to enable build works to continue.  When she returned to the Courts this year seeking a permanent injunction to ban building traffic and anyone living in the houses from using her driveway, her claim did not succeed.

The Judge held that the use of the land would not amount to excessive use or would cause an actionable nuisance in the year when the homeowner purchased her house in 2014, or even in the year when the right of way was granted in 1972.

The result of this case is that construction can be completed using the homeowner’s driveway as access, and the occupants of the new homes will also be able to use the driveway.  It has also left the homeowner approximately £1.3 million out of pocket and at risk of losing her dream home.

Those involved in a dispute with their neighbours are urged to seek independent legal advice at the earliest opportunity, and to consider other forms of dispute resolution such as mediation as an alternative to what can be very costly litigation.

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