Dream home or neighbour nightmare over £3.5m property

The property

Stephen and Lucie Allen thought they had come up with a brilliant solution for how to live in the property they have always wanted - in the location of their dreams. They bought a run-down home on the exclusive beachfront at Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset, and planned to knock it down and start again.

However, this is where the dream started to turn sour.


They spent an astonishing £3.5 million on a dilapidated property - which set a record for the price per square foot in the area. They may have thought that the neighbours would be pleased to see the property improved - but they would soon realise it takes more than a dream home to keep the neighbours happy in Sandbanks.

According to the Bournemouth Echo, the couple applied for planning permission for a five bedroom house over five floors. However, it was refused.

New plans

The Daily Mail reported that one problem was that the proposed building encroached three metres beyond the permitted building line along the beach. So the couple went back to the plans, shaved 19 inches off the width of the pool, and shrunk the sun terrace, to bring the property back over the line. They submitted the plans to the council and await their decision.

However, their new neighbours have spoken to the Daily Mail. A planning consultant representing the neighbours either side said the balcony would still look into the neighbours' properties. He also said that at the first planning meeting, the building had been called "dominant and obtrusive" and he wasn't convinced by the architect's insistence that this had been addressed by the changes.

Falling out

We will have to wait and see what happens next. However, it begs the question of whether it's worth it. The couple will have an extraordinary property in an incredible position - out of the back they will overlook the harbour and at the front they will be able to walk out onto the beach. However, when they cast their eyes over to the neighbours they will already have the tension and bad feeling that comes from having an argument before you even move in.

Developing a property is never an easy business. We tend to hear about planning disputes largely when a celebrity is involved - so we know about Bob Geldolf's efforts to stop a neighbour building a gate last month. We also heard in April when John Leslie failed to stop a neighbour replacing a bungalow with a three-storey home, and last week when Nick Ross's neighbours failed to stop him knocking down a large part of his home.

However, for every celebrity story, there are hundreds involving ordinary people disagreeing over changes that their neighbours plan to make, and taking those arguments through a planning meeting.

In the best case scenario, over a period of years the tensions subside, and everyone gets on with the business of being good neighbours. However, in the worst cases, it can mean one of the neighbours can eventually take it no longer, and moves out of their dream home.

When Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi sold their Belgravia property in 2010, there were those who highlighted that Saatchi had recently fallen out with the upstairs neighbours who had put scaffolding at the rear of the property, and that the owners of the property next door had submitted plans for a basement extension. The property had been developed into a dream home by the couple - who decided to leave it all behind and move on.
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