Unwanted glimpses of naked neighbours after a home extension was built without planning permission spurred residents to study planning law and take the matter to the High Court.
Residents in Brighton’s Hollingbury Road have spent six years with views directly into the bathroom of their neighbour’s home which breached planning permission.
Neighbour Peter Barker said: “There are three girls all under 12 living nearby and when they played on their climbing frame in the garden they would see the residents going to the toilet, showering and other things that young people do in a bathroom and it is difficult to explain to these children what’s going on.
“It would cost the developer £5 worth of B&Qfilm to cover over those windows.”
A High Court judge ruled in their favour and labelled Brighton and Hove City Council’s failure to take action as “perverse”.
Neighbours say the ball is now in the council’s court to force the property’s developer to resolve the situation.
The court case endedupcosting the city council £10,000 according to the residents, who have criticised the authority’s “disgusting intransigence” in challenging the case all the way to the High Court.
The nightmare began in 2008 when development began transforming a light industrial site into a house.
The completed house had three bedrooms instead of the permitted two, was one metre higher than agreed and had clear glass in windows overlooking neighbouring gardens.
Fed up with the city council’s failure to take enforcement action on the breaches despite repeated pleas from residents and ward councillor Jeanne Lepper, residents got to grips with planning law and defeated a barrister in court.
When the judge’s decision was delivered last week, Mr Baker, 56, became one of the first successful litigants to have a court overrule a council’s decision not to carry out enforcement.
He said: “It’s nice to have got this far but we would like it to result in something more than a landmark law case.”
Stella Crudas, 55, said the home was a like a “spaceship landing at the bottom of her garden” and the previous industrial building was a far better neighbour.
She said: “I am not really happy about going into my garden any more “I used to like entertaining outside but our guests were put off because they could see straight through their windows."
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “The council will be reviewing its reasons for deciding not to go ahead with formal enforcement action.
“The council has been talking to the homeowner about installing obscure glazing in the bathroom windows on the ground floor and this has now been done.
“Installing obscure glazing to the upper floor bathroom rooflights will be considered by the council when reviewing its decision.”