Celia Sawyer's bid to halt neighbour's balcony overlooking her garden fails

A balcony being installed on a house on a row of long gardened houses in Poole, Dorset by the sea
BCP Council have ruled the additions to be lawful and "would not create an unacceptable impact on the neighbouring amenities" (Image credit: Google Earth)

Celia Sawyer's attempts to stop her neighbour's plans to build a balcony have been unsuccessful as the council has allowed the plans to go ahead.

The presenter of Channel 4's 'Four Rooms' complained after her neighbour, Neil Kennedy, a retired accountant, built his own self build in the exclusive Sandbanks area in Poole’s, Dorset, also known as 'Millionaire's Row'.

However, as part of the self build Mr Kennedy built a number of unauthorised additions, including a balcony, which he was forced to submit a retrospective planning permission for, but these have now been approved by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) council, infuriating Mrs Sawyer.

What were the complaints?

The Row on Millionaire's Row erupted when Mrs Sawyer and her husband Nick claimed that Mr Kennedy illegally expanded the width of a first-floor balcony and added extra windows that overlooked their backyard.

Mrs Sawyer stated that they had no issues with Mr Kennedy building a house next door or even the plans to build a balcony but was shocked to find the final design for the home looked into their back garden.

She told the Daily Telegraph: “We object to being overlooked. When I’m in my bikini I feel very uncomfortable.

“The extension of the decking covers the entire balcony, we have no privacy. He says it’s only for maintenance but he can literally stand there and look into our garden, it shouldn’t be allowed."

Mr Sawyer wrote to the council, stating: “Mr Kennedy showed us his plans and assured us that he would happily abide by our wishes. We advised that the only objection would be loss of privacy and unsightly appendages to the sides of the build. We were pleased to see that the planning department shared our concerns.

“However, Mr Kennedy’s actual plan was to blatantly breach the planning permission and totally disregard his previous agreement with his neighbours. My wife and I are extremely upset by Mr Kennedy’s actions.”

The Sawyer's were also unhappy about an air source heat pump on the roof of Mr Kennedy’s house, complaining of the potential noise problems that can come due to the close proximity of the heat pump.

Celia 'appalled' by council's decision

Mrs Sawyer told the MailOnline:  "It's appalling and it's unfair. It makes you wonder what is going on in the council planning department.

"I think it's appalling my neighbour is allowed to have windows looking into someone's house. Saying it's not overlooking or a breach of privacy because it is a bathroom is absolute rubbish.

"It doesn't make me feel good, to know he can stand on his balcony and look into our garden when I'm in my bikini.

"I can't believe the changes have been approved, it sets a bad example. I don't know what the council are doing. It needs a good shake up.

"Why do any of us bother getting planning permission if they are going to let someone like our neighbour get away with it?"

Changes considered only 'minor material amendments'

Neil Kennedy built a modern three-storey house

The self build was allowed to stay as it was after it was deemed to "not materially impact the nearby conservation area" and the neighbouring homes (Image credit: Google)

The Planning Officer's report for BCP Council for the application found the additional alterations to the self build to be acceptable as they were deemed "minor material amendments".

It was ruled, "The plans submitted, to regularise the building as built, fall within what can be considered as minor material amendments" and "would not create an unacceptable impact on the neighbouring amenities".

The balcony that was installed was deemed to "not materially impact the nearby conservation area, coastal areas and impact on the character of the street scene" whilst the air source heat pump was deemed acceptable under permitted development rights

The council concluded: "With regards to the introduction of upper floor windows on the west elevation, these would directly face onto a brick wall of the neighbouring property.

"Given that they are not habitable rooms, it is unlikely that windows serving these rooms would cause an issue in terms of overlooking and loss of privacy. Furthermore, in an area such as this, the properties are within close proximity therefore there will be an accepted level of mutual overlooking from the alterations made to the property however, not so significant to warrant refusal."

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.