A row of terrace house's in Cambridge

A Brief Historic Overview

The Government introduced the 1996 Act for England and Wales on the 1st of July 1997. The Act sets out a statutory framework designed to regulate certain building work within proximity to neighbouring premises.


The Act subsequently imposes rights and obligations to owners and occupiers affected by the work. To quote the preambles of the Act:






The idea of a statutory regime governing the relationship between adjoining owners and certain building work in or near property boundaries is not a new concept. Prior to the 1996 Act, preceding legislation is commonly associated with  the , and further documented in  statutory codes following the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in 1666. Interestingly, TKSG as such is our interest, trace back a linear heritage dating 200 AD noting, London in common with Rome adopting legal methods to deal with inherent disputes stemming from a densely packed population living within proximity.

Accordingly, like its predecessors the 1996 Act continues to statutory regulate and impose certain rights and obligations to those wishing to undertake building work in proximity to neighbouring land. The legislation establishes the requirement for the ‘service’ of ‘notice(s)’ before such work is undertaken, and for the appointment of 'surveyor(s)' to settle any ‘dispute’ that subsequently arise. However, unlike its predecessors where jurisdiction was previously confined to London, authority was expanded to cover most of England and Wales.

The primary purpose of the 1996 Act is to expedite development whilst affording protection to those affected. Whilst some may choose to ignore its implementation, the alternative is court action, an injunction to halt work and compensation for damages and trespass, not to mention ruined relations between neighbours. Evidently the consequences for non-compliance can be disastrous.



Section of brick wall
preambles party wall etc. act 1996

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