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Love Thy Neighbour: Checking in with neighbours BEFORE an application

Do you have big changes in mind for your land or property that your neighbours are bound to notice?

Let’s talk about your strategy; let’s talk about how you will conduct these efforts while maintaining good rapport with your neighbours.Here are some tips for dealing with neighbours who take issue with your land or property plans. These will help you nip these problems in the bud, preventing these conflicts from turning into massive roadblocks for your plans further down the road.

Reflect On Where Your Relationship Is With Your Neighbours

The kind of relationship you have with your neighbours will determine the course you should take in managing any potential future conflict that involves your property.

Consider the history of you and your neighbour. Between the both of you, have complaints been raised in the past over any matter? Have either of you engaged in land in property development before? If so, what was the reaction like last time?

Don’t Leave Conflicts To Escalate

It’s important to know if your neighbours will begrudge the changes you intend to make to your property as soon as you can.

The earlier you find out about their feelings, the easier it will be to resolve a conflict.

The consequence of leaving a resolution too late is that your neighbours may end up appealing to VCAT, which will delay your council-approved works for six months or more.

It does not matter if your plans are in the right, anyone can still lodge an appeal and force you to defend them at VCAT.

It does not matter if your neighbours take you to VCAT with a weak case and lose the appeal, you will still take financial losses in defending yourself, they will likely not be liable to cover it.

It is much better to talk to your neighbours and get to the bottom of disputes before they become official.

If you have a friendly relationship with your neighbours, it’s probably safe to write them a letter or knock on their door and share your plans before they officially begin.

Sharing your plans with your neighbours early is bound to earn you respect and trust. Your neighbours could even give you some good ideas about your property in return for your openness.

Few places impact your neighbours’ lives as much as your property.

At the end of the day, neighbours just want reassurance that you will not recklessly and unnecessarily harm their quality of life.

It’s a small thing to knock on their door and talk about it, but it can pay off greatly.

Sadly, it might not be possible to knock on their door and resolve tension yourself if they are already hostile.

However, a VCAT hearing can be avoided even if you are up to the council-approval stage of your mission.

What if you cannot settle conflicts before going to the council?

If your neighbours are still kicking up a fuss, if you have already gone to the council for approval of your property planning, it is not too late to stop the conflict from reaching VCAT.

Your neighbours are not forced to escalate their complaints to VCAT the moment you begin liaising with the council.

You can go to the council and ask your council consultant for pre-approval advice.

While in that discussion with your local council consultant, you can bring up your neighbour’s complaints yourself.

The council will be able to give you some helpful advice on the matter, they are in the business of creating neighbourhood harmony. The council may even inform you of alternative measures you can take that are more harmonious within your neighbourhood.

There is plenty of opportunity to de-escalate a neighbourhood conflict before it becomes a serious roadblock. If you have concerns about neighbours standing in the way of your property plans, you can contact us today.