“The questions raised by readers about living in France could equally apply to Britain but the answers might not necessarily be the same. While the famous saying of Sir Francis Bacon is ‘knowledge is power’, it might be truer in some circumstances to say ‘knowledge is liberating’, as per Kofi Annan. The more you know about living abroad the better. What you need is un-biased, honest answers.
For some of the most asked questions about living in France from readers of Homes and Travel. we have sought the input of our associate, Matthew Cameron of Ashton KCJ.”
Question 1: Can we find out about future plans for our area? (wind farms etc)
Just as in the UK, applications for planning permission are a matter of public record. It will always be possible to consult the local planning register at the local Mairie or in the offices of the Prefecture.
Once a planning permission is granted there is a consultation period during which submissions can be lodged should there be any reason to object to a particular permission. Unlike the UK situation, however, this consultation period actually starts after the permission has been granted in principle. The fact, therefore, that a planning permission has been granted does not immediately mean that it is binding or that an applicant can immediately start work.
Question 2: Will the Mairie give us permission to extend our property?
Just as in the UK, France is subject to a system of local planning rules and planning zones. The local zoning plan must be consulted when seeking to develop a property. It may well be that a building is situated in an area where no further development of any sort would be permitted, or it could also be in an area that is specifically set aside for development.
On top of that the local rules will contain criteria about housing density and the maximum possible development area on a particular plot. When planning any development therefore of any property you should consult a local architect.
Question 3: Who do we complain to if there are problems with neighbours?
The manner of seeking redress depends entirely upon the type of problems experienced, and in reality it will be largely similar to the position in the UK. In the first instance, one would hope that discussing the problem directly with the neighbour would be a sensible route to start with. If you can reach an agreement to a particular problem without having to the cause for outside assistance that is likely to be the cheapest and the most amicable solution. However, this is of course not always possible. If there is any suggestion of criminal behaviour of any sort whatsoever, then the first place to go is the local police.
For matters that are purely civil, such as boundary disputes for example, the sensible route would be to consult a specialist solicitor in England or an Avocat local to the property.
Information on legal aspects supplied by Matthew Cameron, Ashton KCJ www.ashtonkcj.co.uk, an Associate of OGC Tel: 01284 727016
Richard Way, Editor, Overseas Guides Company (OGC)
Tel: +44 207 898 0549