Party Walls Case Study

Cholmeley Evangelical Church is a fellowship reflecting a mixed socio-economic cross-section of the wider community in Highgate.

They are focused on reaching out to the young single professional unchurched population. They also want to develop their church building as a multi-use resource for the wider Christian community especially those organisations involved in mission.

When work started on the property adjoining them they realised they needed to ensure that nothing was done by the neighbouring owner’s contractors that would cause any immediate or longer term damage to the church premises, including hidden, longer term water ingress.

Trevor Currie of Cholmeley Evangelical Church said, “The involvement of Church Growth Trust (CGT) meant we didn’t have to burden the church with the problem or incur unnecessary expense.”

Cholmeley Evangelical Church (Second Century) Trust Fund have an equity share in the property, with CGT being the freeholders. The church informed CGT of the party wall issue and CGT were able to advise on the legal position and carry out inspections at various times which helped highlight issues and offer advice on how to seek a remedy.

The commercial building on the north side of Cholmeley Evangelical Church was demolished and replaced by
a block of flats.

Trevor’s recommendation to churches with building-related issues is to “seek advice immediately and approach the issue professionally, regardless of the relationship with the other party. Communicate/confirm all verbal agreements in writing and be very precise in agreeing the terms and conditions. Be aware that there may be a lack of communication between the adjoining owners and their builder/contractor.”

What is the Party Wall Act?

Legislation that deals with boundaries between separately owned properties.

When would it apply to me?

If you or your neighbour wanted to carry out building works to a party wall or carry out excavations within six metres of the neighbouring structure.

What is deemed a party wall?

A wall standing astride a boundary of land belonging to two or more different owners and which:

  • is part of one building or
  • separates two or more buildings.

A wall which stands wholly on one owner’s land, but is used by two or more owners to separate their buildings. Typically this would include an arrangement where one owner constructed the wall in the first instance and the adjoining owner has butted their building up to it without constructing their own wall.

What do I need to do about it?

If you are the owner of an existing party wall and want to carry out the works you will need to ‘serve notice’ on the owner of the neighbouring property at least two months before the works are due to start. If the adjoining owner agrees, in writing, within 14 days of the serving of the notice, there is no need for action by the building owner and no need to employ a party wall surveyor.

What happens if the adjoining owner does not agree?

If a negative response is received or no response is received a party wall surveyor must be appointed.

For further details see CGT’s Briefing Paper Library

Foundation Spring 2017