Neighbours win 'giant patio' ruling

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judges gavel and law books...

A couple carried out works on their part of a cul-de-sac until it had the appearance of "a giant patio" and obstructed their neighbours' rights of way, a judge at the High Court has ruled.

The judge said Trevor and Carolyn Taylor did not show any "consideration" for their neighbours.


They had caused them "over a year of disruption and inconvenience" as they worked to create a large, enclosed area in front of their house "only they could use".

Amanda Tipples QC, deputy judge of the Chancery Division, said: "The Taylors started work on the access road, namely the large area in front of their house, on 17 September 2012.

"As a result of these works, one third of the access road is now paved with Indian Stone and has the appearance of a giant patio."

The judge granted their neighbours - the Begleys and the Manders - a declaration that they had established a right of use and were entitled to access over the entirety of the road.

She also granted them an injunction to restrain the Taylors from restricting access and said three gate posts already cemented into the roadway must be removed and a proposed gate must not be installed.

She also ordered the "patio" to be taken up and the surface of the road reinstated.

The judge said what had occurred was "a substantial interference" with the neighbours' rights of way and rights to park.

She dismissed the Taylors' counterclaim for a declaration that the Begleys and the Manders were not entitled to access and the proposed gate would not interfere with their rights of way.

The cul-de-sac at the centre of the legal battle is a private road off Fulmer Road, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.

The Taylors live at number 96. They were taken to London's High Court by James and Helen Begley at number 94 and Kenneth and Judith Mander at number 98.

The three homes, all built before February 1973, are the only properties in the cul-de-sac.

The Taylors bought number 96, which is at the very western end of the access road, in June 2007.

The Begleys bought their house, Perama, on the northern side of the road, in September 2006, and the Manders bought Oak Lodge, on the southern side, in May 2003 after living there as tenants since December 2001.

Judge Tipples said that, in 2011, Mrs Taylor first told the Begleys and the Manders she and her husband wanted to put up gates at the entrance to the cul-de-sac, but the neighbours objected.

A year later the Taylor's solicitors wrote saying they intended to erect a gate "half way down" the access road and gave as their reason a recent spate of thefts from gardens in the area. The neighbours also said that was unacceptable.

Then in September 2012 the Taylors' solicitors informed their neighbours that a contractor was to start work on the road and they had to keep it clear at all times, said the judge.

The Manders responded by saying they would not be making any contribution to works they had not agreed to and repeated an offer of a discussion between all three sets of neighbours.

But, said the judge, the new gate posts were concreted in and a barrier of green fencing erected across the road, completely blocking off access to any vehicles to the western end of the cul-de-sac, and to a turning circle for vehicles.

The fence remained in place until very shortly before the High Court case began.

The judge said the fourth gate post had yet to be inserted, but when that happened there would be an entrance through the gates just about 4.20 metres wide, though the type of gates to be used remained unclear.

"From September 2012 the gate posts have caused obstruction. One third of the access road has been dug up and fenced off and the western end of the access road has been taken completely out of use.

"The claimants have been forced to use the eastern part of the access road for turning. This is something which Mrs Mander said she found very dangerous, particularly when lots of vehicles were parked in the access road."

The judge said Mr and Mrs Mander had also experienced numerous incidents when access to their garage had either been blocked or restricted by the Taylors' vehicles or their visitors' vehicles.

Mr Taylor worked in the building industry, and he and his wife had a large family who visited. The couple had been carrying out works to number 96 ever since they moved in, including converting a garage into part of the house.

From September 2006 when the Begleys moved into No. 94 they had used the western part of the road to turn their cars around, but were prevented once the Taylors began their works.

The judge ruled: "It is clear that parking and use of the access road has been a real challenge since September 2012 and Mr Begley gave several examples in his witness statement where either his, or his wife's car, has been blocked in. None of this evidence was challenged in cross-examination."

The judge added: "The evidence that the (Begleys and Manders) and their predecessors have all used the western section of the access road to turn their cars is overwhelming.

"This is not surprising. It is the widest part of the access road with a footpath on one side and the verge on the other."

The judge rejected submissions made on behalf of the Taylors that the neighbours had made no substantial use of the road to the west of the proposed gate.

She said that, before beginning works on the road, "the Taylors did not show any consideration towards their neighbours or seek to engage in any form of constructive discussion about the works that they proposed, or how this would impact on their neighbours.

"Rather, they presented their neighbours with what they wanted to do and, irrespective of their neighbours' views, just went ahead and did the works they wanted and this, in turn, has caused over a year of disruption and inconvenience to the Begleys and the Manders."

The judge also said she was not persuaded the real reason why the Taylors wanted a gate was for security purposes.

She said she thought the real reason was that the Taylors "want to create a large enclosed area in front of No. 96 that they can only use for themselves".

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