CONFUSION over ownership of the land directly behind a man’s house has cost him thousands.
Robert Gahagan’s house in Portsdown Road, Portchester, backs on to the King Richard estate.
After the estate was completed, Mr Gahagan, who was interested in building a driveway to his house at the bottom of his back garden, asked the development company, Barratt Homes, whether responsibility for the roads in the completed estate would be transferred to Portsmouth City Council.
Were they to be transferred, he could seek permission from the council to start work on a drive.
The 43-year-old says he was told that the roads were going to become council property and so he contacted the authority, which he says confirmed that since he did not require a dropped kerb, he could go ahead.
But the council says that Mr Gahagan was told that the area directly behind his back garden was private land and although he was working on his land, he would need legal rights of access to drive through the private parking area.
Mr Gahagan said: ‘I’m stressed, I’ve been in hospital twice this year because of my bad back, which I suffer a lot with, and this is added stress.’
‘Three times I phoned Barratt and three times they said “yes, the roads are going over to the council”.’
Mr Gahagan says that after tearing down the fence on his property and nearly completing the work, which cost him £3,500, he was told by the company that he had been misinformed and that he would need permission from the residents in the area behind his home as it was private parking and not a road.
Barratt Homes said: ‘Unfortunately it appears Mr Gahagan has completed works on his land, which requires legal rights of access to be granted, without having first taken the necessary legal advice.’
The company also says that Mr Gahagan only got in contact after the driveway was nearly finished: ‘Mr Gahagan did approach Barratt but only after he completed his work. He was not only advised of the legal situation but informed that the necessary rights could be considered, provided each of the owners, that already have rights of access, were in full agreement.’
But Mr Gahagan maintains he contacted the company before beginning work and that he was told he could go ahead with the construction of the driveway provided the council agreed, only to be told later he had been given the wrong information.
He says that he contacted the council several times to confirm but the authority said it only has a record of him contacting it once and that it told him it was privately-owned land and he would need to speak to the owner to discuss access.
The council says he was given Land Registry contact details so he could find out ownership.
Mr Gahagan disputes this and says he pressed ahead after being told he would need the residents’ permission – but failed to get all to agree.
He is now seeking compensation from Barratt Homes.