Private road owner seeks court order to stop couple’s building project on £1.5m home by withdrawing their access

An overhead shot of the property shows a small driveway and large back garden
A couple are looking to knock down their £1.5m home in Oxshott, Surrey, in order to turn it into two houses so one of their ill fathers can live closer to them (Image credit: Google Earth)

A yoga teacher and her husband are in a court battle over plans to demolish their £1.5 million home on an exclusive Surrey estate so they can build two properties.

Emma and Terence McGuinness claim they want to create a second home on their plot so her ill father can move into it and be looked after.

The couple are in a court battle with their neighbours in Birch Mead, in Oxshott, Surrey, over road access and claim to have been shunned socially as a result, highlighting some of the issues that can occur when building a house.

Couple want to demolish existing £1.5m home and build two on plot

The McGuinness’ have planning permission for the self build of a pair of three bedroom dwellings after the demolition of the existing property.

They claim their plans are not about maximising the value of the plot. Instead, they claim the plans will allow them to look after the father of Mrs McGuinness, a hot yoga teacher.

Speaking at Central London County Court, the couple’s barrister George Woodhead, said: “For them, this is less about making money and more about living in close proximity to Mrs McGuinness's father, who is unwell and wishes to be very near to his family.

“Their children are at school and engage in local activities. The family are embedded in the local community, such that moving house is undesirable. Their focus is on family, not money.”

Neighbours brought injunction to stop building materials being brought onto the site

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The owner of the private roads accessing the estate - Ridgeway (Oxshott) Management Ltd - is seeking an injunction to ban them from using their roads to carry out the build.

The company, made up of neighbours on the estate, claims conditions of sale and access rights restrict owners to 'one plot one house'.

Mr and Mrs McGuinness, want the case against them thrown out and are now awaiting post-trial judgment.

Mr Woodhead says Ridgeway Management was demonstrating hypocrisy and nimbyism (not in my back yard protestors) and pointed out most other residents have extended, rebuilt, or improved their properties at some point, although he added that not all members of the company are opposed.

The property is located in in Oxshott, Surrey

Ridgeway (Oxshott) Management Ltd who own the road is looking to stop the development by blocking access to the road and are seeking an injunction against the couple (Image credit: Google)

Examining the opposition from neighbours who oppose the demolition plans

The barrister for Ridgeway Miriam Seitler says the construction traffic would disrupt the quiet estate.

“The disruption and damage to be caused in the short term is significant: the construction period for two dwellings will be substantially longer and more intensive than for one," she said.

“The experts agree that one house could be built in 12 months, whereas the proposed development would take 21 months.”

She added that many on the estate felt a “particular concern about multiple dwellings”.

Couple claim to be ‘ostracised’ and no longer welcome at the ‘Wine Society’

The couple claim they have been 'shunned and ostracised' by 'nimby' neighbours as a result of the row.

Mr McGuinness says his wife no longer takes part in the local Wine Society, has chats with neighbours at the gate, or participates in summer picnics. 

He said: “Certainly we felt ostracised. The last two years have been extremely difficult for us.”

Ms Seitler pointed out that socialising had been impacted by Covid, adding that Mr and Mrs McGuinness had been invited to the Jubilee and Coronation street parties.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.