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6th April 2023

Don’t let a right of way ruin your peace and quiet

Don’t let a right of way ruin your peace and quiet
Cordelia Smith
Cordelia Smith

The High Court has dismissed the claims of Zoe Bucknell, who has been embroiled in a dispute with her neighbour, farmer Mark Stoneham, over his plans to convert a barn into two houses. 

Ms Bucknell argued that she would be disturbed by increased traffic to the site which would pass along the driveway next to her property, including heavy machinery whilst the building works were underway. 

Judge Paul Matthews ruled that the possible disturbance was not unreasonable, noting that Mr Stoneham had a right of way over the driveway, allowing him to drive vehicles along it.

It sounds like the driveway is owned by Ms Bucknell, and Mr Stoneham has a 'right of way' over it. 

It is important for owners and potential buyers to carefully examine any rights that burden their property. For example, a right of way (i.e. to pass back and forth) is not a right to park. What specific rights are reserved? Are they public or private? 

A right of way might also include a right to:

  • Walk or bring motorised vehicles, bikes or horses along a route 
  • Use a route only for one purpose, for many or for all 
  • Use a route at certain times of day or night.

Of course, a right of way might also include an obligation to pay or reimburse the owner towards her costs of maintenance and repair of the route; which might come as a comfort to an owner such as Ms Bucknell if the route’s use is intensified for a period of time during, say, building works. 

A thorough inspection of local rights of way could act as an early warning to potential buyers that the quiet, secluded property they are eyeing up might not always be so.