Row erupts after rich pensioner erects barricade to block off neighbours £2m

first_imgA rich pensioner is locked in a bizarre neighbours war with a cutting-edge architect and her partner, after erecting a huge wooden barricade that blocks off the windows and back door of their innovative £2 million house.Elspeth Pirie, 67, says she put up the hoarding behind her £3.6 million period property in an exclusive Kensington street to “protect her privacy” after “modernist” architect Luz Vargas and her artist partner William Milroy reconstructed their property and put in three new windows at the back.The elderly multi-milllionaire says she complained that her privacy was being invaded by the windows that overlooked her garden, and felt forced to put up the barricade when her protests were “ignored”.The outraged architect is now suing her, seeking damages and an injunction to compel Miss Pirie to take the barricade down, saying it prevents her and her partner from seeing out of their windows or using their back door. Luz Vargas outside Central London County CourtCredit: Richard Gittins / Champion News And he argued that, because the couple’s builders made use of her garden to carry out the works, Miss Pirie should be awarded “a reasonable figure based on half the enhancement in value.”The case came before Judge Edward Bailey at Central London County Court briefly, following days of negotiations between the neighbours, before adjourning.When it comes back, the judge will have to decide what rights of light and access the architect and her husband enjoy at the back of their house, whether a light obstruction notice obtained by Miss Pirie should be cancelled, and if they are due damages in respect of the hoarding.The court must also decide if Miss Pirie is due damages for “incursion on her garden when the works were carried out” or an injunction for removal of “protrusions” from the back wall of her neighbours’ house which she says overhang her garden.Outside court after the adjournment, Mr Bickford Smith said: “They still hate each other. They will be coming back to court.” The back garden in which wealthy pensioner Elspeth Pirie has erected a barricade to block off the windows and door of her architect neighbour  “Had she been told of the proposal, she would undoubtedly have objected in the strongest terms regarding the lack of privacy the new windows would involve and the application would most likely have been refused,” the barrister adds.”In order to protect her position, Miss Pirie erected a hoarding to obstruct the current windows and registered a light obstruction notice,” he added.The barrister says that Miss Pirie also complains that “the works were incredibly prolonged and disruptive” and caused “chaos.””The garden was greatly damaged,” he claims, adding: “The permanent results of the works have been disastrous.”Miss Pirie also says the “rough and poor quality” rendered finish on the back of her neighbours’ property “detracts from her house.”Mr Bickford Smith, urging the court to reject the couple’s bid for damages and an injunction, says Miss Pirie had every right to protect her privacy and garden.”The current hoarding is not actionable… the complaint that the hoarding is too close to the wall should be rejected. Efforts to suggest some risk of rot or damp are tenuous,” claims the barrister.He adds that, if given notice that approved works need to be carried out, “Miss Pirie is ready to move the hoarding” but that “she is entitled to ensure that the removal is for legitimate purposes.”Of her counterclaim, the barrister says: “In the present case the claimants must have been intending to enhance the value of their house… valuation evidence suggests the enhancement was in fact in excess of £100,000.” The new basement was designed so that light filters down through a glass floor at ground level, via the glazed door and three new windows at the back of the Miss Vargas’ house. The back garden in which wealthy pensioner Elspeth Pirie has erected a barricade to block off the windows and door of her architect neighbour Credit:Champion News In order to protect her position, Miss Pirie erected a hoarding to obstruct the current windows and registered a light obstruction noticeStephen Bickford Smith But the forward-thinking designer was left gobsmacked when Ms Pirie ordered the hoarding erected to block off the new windows and the door in 2014.The windows and door are now “at the heart of the dispute” between the creative couple and Miss Pirie, a property consultant.Howard Smith, for the couple, is arguing at Central London County Court that they enjoy a right to light through their new windows and also have a right of access over Miss Pirie’s garden though their back door.Ms Vargas and Mr Milroy’s property does not have a garden of its own – but backs onto the garden of Miss Pirie’s three-bedroom house – so that the couple’s builders needed to access their neighbour’s garden to carry out the works.Stephen Bickford Smith, for Miss Pirie, claims that that she didn’t object to the development being given the green light in 2010, or to builders coming onto her land, because she “felt she should act in a neighbourly way.”But she had not realised at the time that the windows were being put in overlooking her garden, the barrister adds in his written argument before the court. And the fact that planning permission for new windows was not required meant that Miss Pirie never had the opportunity to object to them, he claims. Luz Vargas outside Central London County Court The hoarding is starving them of light into their £100,000 new basement, the couple say, and also risks “rot and damp” developing in their home due to trapped moisture.Miss Pirie is fiercely defending her actions and counterclaiming for £50,000 she says she is owed because her neighbours’ builders carried out works to their house whilst standing in her garden.Her “falling out” with her neighbours dates back to 2010, when they obtained planning permission to reconstruct the back of their 200-year-old mews house in Holland Park and put in a new basement.Whilst both houses date from the Georgian era, the architect – whose aesthetic “values” are listed on her company website as “Modernists, timeless, innovative spatial experience” – had thoroughly up-to-date ideas for the redevelopment. 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