Under section 2(2) of the Party Wall Act there is not stand-alone right to permanently demolish a party wall. The only right that is granted to the building owner is to demolish and rebuild. The same is not true of a boundary wall which sits on the land of one owner only. At common law the owner of the wall may demolish their wall, subject only to planning restrictions.
Demolishing a boundary fence, wall or other means of enclosure is permitted development under class B, Part 31 of Schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order. However, on 1 October 2013 this provision was amended to exclude boundary walls in conservation areas.
This means that if the owner of a building in a conservation area wants to demolish, in whole or in part,
“any gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure”.
This means, in conservation areas, building owners must first seek planning permission before they can demolish a party wall or party fence wall, or even a garden fence, even if all the other works are permitted development.
The phrase “other means of enclosure” is potentially very broad indeed, and could potentially include trees, hedges and bushes. If correct, the owner would need planning permission before they could cut (i.e. demolish in part) the tree, hedge or bush.
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