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Pensioner with Bulldozer

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  • Pensioner with Bulldozer

    My neighbour is a single lady in her seventies. We share a driveway across land owned by a third party. Recently my husband and I had this right of way legalised and had a Deed of Grant issued by the landowner. My neighbour can also do this in respect of her property.

    My husband and I have borne all the cost and work of maintaining the drive including surfacing, ditch and bank maintenance, gate maintenance and refuse clearance. This has cost us some GBP 10 000 over the five years we have lived in the property. We have asked our neighbour to contribute as she originally agreed to do but nothing has been forthcoming.

    Three days ago my neighbour has had dug through the dense ancient woodlands to the south of our drive a new drive for her use. It joins the main road on a sharp bend on a very busy fast stretch. This was dug out in very wet weather by a large yellow bulldozer. As you can imagine the damge to the trees, other plants and animals in the woods is horrendous. There is no security on this drive and it is out of sight so is likely to be invaded by travellers, fly tippers and off road motorcyclists. There is no planning permission, no permission from the Highways Department to create an access and no permision from the landowner. If we had not stopped them they would have gone on to block our drive so we would have had no drive to our home. We would have been forced to use this illegal mud track through the wood, coming out on a very dangerous bend. Of course we have to go to work; we cannot stay home to watch the drive indefinitely, so she may resume work and block our drive at any time.

    The stress from this situation is horrendous: I feel physcially sick when I return home at the thought of what I might find. I cannot concentrate at work for worry of what is going on at home. Our marriage is suffering and our little boy, who has special educational needs, is very distressed and frightened.

    I thought living next to a nice older lady in the middle of nowhere, we would help and support each other; but I have to nominate this woman as the ultimate Neighbour from Hell.

    Does anyone know where I go from here please? How can I stop this illegal work and safeguard our home?

    Many thanks!


  • #2
    Frances, the first thing you should do is contact the landowner. This woman is creating an unauthorised access and the owner will be able to stop them if she hasn't applied for legal consent.

    Since you say the property is in ancient woodland, it may well also be the case that she is ignoring any TPO's (Tree Preservation Orders) in the vicinity.

    I would initially urgently speak to the landowner and demand that he stops any further work before it gets to the stage where the driveway is complete as this will put your neighbour in a better position regarding gaining retrospective consent. She may not win, a fight like that can drag on literally for years and years.

    Also then contact your Council highways department and explain the pending situation regarding her accessing a public highway in an inappropriate and dangerous area. They should then take steps to issue an injunction to prevent any further work whilst they assess the situation. Creating your own access to a publicly maintained highway is a difficult job in its own right and people have enough problems when they try and get a kerb dropped outside their houses. The Council should also be able to provide you with details of any TPO's that she may have disregarded. If there is a TPO in place and your neighbour has disregarded this, this could leave her open to prosecution.

    It sounds to me as though your neighbour has decided to flout all the usual planning routes with the hope that any backlash can be fought off afterwards. You would be wise not to let it get anywhere near completion stage.

    I know it's a last resort but, in this instance, I would also contact a solicitor to get the best possible advice here and to get every possible aspect of protecting your home covered. An initial interview and advice should cost you around the £150.00 mark.

    Would be very interested to see how this turns out. Keep us updated.


    (PS: Welcome to the board )


    • #3
      Hi Frances and welcome to the forum

      It sounds like you've got a headstrong (arrogant) NFH who will do what she will when she will. You have my utmost sympathy

      I think Jeannie has given you some good advice. I would have thought that it was illegal to destroy ancient woodland without at least some sort of planning permission from the local authority. Is there a local conservation group that might have some information you could use?

      It all sounds extremely worrying for you. Have you spoken to your NFH? If so what has she to say for herself? I don't wish to sound ageist, but some older people get very eccentric and stubborn, especially when they live alone. Age is no bar to NFH behaviour.

      English Nature is a government agency, perhaps you could contact them. Their URL is: They might be able to give you some help.

      I think you will have to act very quickly before this lady does any more damage. Good luck, please come back and let us know how things progress. You'll always find a sympathetic ear and a lot of support from members.

      "Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." Gandhi


      • #4

        This sounds like a pretty awful situation to be in and I don't have to tell you that shared driveways do cause major problems when things go wrong.

        How sympathetic is your employer ? By this I mean would they be okay if you took a week off work on the sick (I don't necesarily advocate this line but I think it would help here) and contacted all these agencies in getting things sorted out.

        It would also give you a chance to be at home and see what is going on and meeting the agencies representatives when they visit.

        I think firmly here you have a good case and more than likely a winable one too - although your can never say cast iron winable you would be well on your way.

        Other than what the others have offered by way of advice all I can say is welcome to the forum and I hope that you will be able to take some of this information and turn it into a benefit for you and your family.


        • #5
          Hi frances and welcome to the Forum

          This neighbour from hell (NFH) issue is way beyond me I'm afraid and it sounds like a nightmare situation that your nfh has put you in.

          The action that your nfh has taken is their typical behaviour: the world revolves around me, me, me / I can do anything I want and you won't stop me.

          Like Badger has asked, what kind of relaitonship have you had with your neighbour in the past? You mentioned that she had promised a contribution to your drive, but that that was never forthcoming. What other history has there been between you?

          Having to live with an nfh can affect your health, and you really must take care of yourself and your family. Try to keep very strong and together as a family unit. If you find yourself getting over anxious about it all, try some meditation, "me" time or even go and see your GP.

          I hope that you manage to follow up the advice given by the other members, please keep us updated with what happens.