Bring back Neighbours: McGovern (l) and Panesar (r).
As if he didn't have enough on his plate already, a solicitor due to stand trial for money laundering is embroiled in a furious row with his neighbour over a giant new house.
Albert McGovern, the Managing Director of Snowbird Foods, has accused Sanjay Panesar, the Senior Partner and founder of Rainer Hughes, of overdeveloping land next to his luxury home.
When McGovern bought his £1.6m house, located on one of Dartford's most desirable streets, the plot next door was occupied by a small cottage. But when Panesar won planning permission to knock down the bungalow and replace it with a mansion more befitting the neighbourhood, their relationship soured.
"The new construction is a colossal monstrosity being built practically on the boundary line resulting in towering oppressive walls overshadowing my patio", McGovern complained to the council after his initial objection was dismissed.
The view from McGovern's garden, now with 80% more brick.
McGovern told RollOnFriday that the solicitor's development had become a nightmare and appeared to be "mutating without any regard to approved plans".
He said the roof had spawned extra windows overlooking his garden, the wall ended 5cm closer to his boundary then planned, leaving a 23cm gap which would hinder maintenance, and there were now "three 360 degree CCTV cameras all pointing at my house and patio".
Dartford Council told McGovern the property's increased footprint was likely to be "a minor breach of planning control" which "is not one which would be expedient for the Local Planning Authority to take action" [sic]. And it said there was still time for builders to obscure the glass in the extra windows and fix them shut.
But its relaxed approach has not satisfied the director. "I object to any windows obscure or not facing my property", said McGovern. "When I sit on my patio or have a meal in my conservatory I want to enjoy the privacy of my own property and not be overlooked or have the invasion of light from windows of the neighbouring property facing mine", he said.
The beginning of the end of cordial relations.
Through his spokesperson, Panesar said, "I'm very saddened that the work on this house has caused such upset and a rift with a neighbour. As far as I was concerned, everything was signed off by the council and I adhered to all of the planning permission, but I'm very disappointed that Mr McGovern has fallen out with me".
Panesar's spokesperson said any extant breaches would be remedied. "All of these complaints made would be valid if the building was complete however it has not been and therefore it is wrong to suggest that planning permission has been breached when work is not complete", he said.
He also denied that Panesar was the owner of the property, explaining that "planning was obtained through the architects who have used his name on the document", but "it would be unfair to suggest that he is the owner of the property when he is not".
The spokesperson did not respond before RollOnFriday’s deadline when asked to elaborate on a text message sent to McGovern in which Panesar described himself as "the owner of the property".
It's fair to say goodwill IS low.
The spokesperson denied that Sanjay Panesar had any connection to the property on the other side of the controversial development, either, claiming it "is completely separate and again has nothing to do with him". He did not respond before RollOnFriday’s deadline when asked whether this was accurate, given that the registered proprietors of the development land and the property next door all appeared to be members of Panesar's family.
A spokesperson for Dartford Borough Council told RollOnFriday it was unable to comment on the record.