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Change of Use

John Brown

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Our friends bought a house on the edge of a large town a few years ago and subsequently permission was given for a single dwelling on land opposite their house

The house was built by two Turkish families who constructed what appeared to be a pair of semi-detached houses. The houses were finished externally apart from the groundwork but no internal walls were built. It is understood that the families fell out before the work was completed and the house has been turned into a Community Centre for the local Turkish People.

It is open from 8.00am till mid-night each day and over 100 people arrive and leave by cars each day. Parked cars are left along the narrow lane and the level of noise is unbearable.

What, if anything, can be done


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Norman has some excellent suggestions. Mr. Nectarine, however, says that he would borrow a couple of pigs and let them graze in your front garden as, apparently, Turks don't like or are offended by pigs.

Not politically correct, but it sounds like this 'social centre' was planned almost from the start and sometimes you have to play dirty in life to win the game.

Good luck.
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You make a good point regarding the Turkish Community, we have always found them to be nice people.

I say "Turkish" in the first post, I might be doing them a disservice. This community are housed locally in multi-story flats and are said to be "refugees" with a few local business men friends. We notice all the visitors are men.

There was certainly a lot of  "free help" with the building of the house

The Agent that sold the house says there is no such thing as "Change of Use" in France but is that them not wanting to be bothered now.

Thanks for the links

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There might be something in the Code de l'urbanisme,


but it is vast Surely the   first port of call is the Mairie, and then  a chat either with the service de Médiation or the Conciliateur de Justice if that fails?

Is the centre run as an "Association Loi de 1 er juillet 1901"  ( http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006069570&dateTexte=20100411)

The legal  responsibilities of the Officers of an Association is explained here:


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  • 2 weeks later...

You were right on the money with the use of the building as a social club under the terms of an "Association Loi de 1 er juillet 1901"

The owner of the "house"  has confirmed this to be the case

Our friends ask,

1. Is it legal in France to to get planning permission to build  for

habitation and then just change it to use the building as a social club for men, open seven days a week

till midnight

    most nights, even though it is just feet away from private residences


2. Are there no parking restrictions and laws regarding Social Clubs and there effect on the local community in France? Is it OK to

open a business when you have maybe 6-7 parking spaces and the business attracts 20 - 30 cars at one time?

    Thus filling up all the communal lay-byes, parking on the verges of a very narrow road and blocking

residents access to their own properties?

This has developed into a nightmare situation for this couple because they can't even sell up and move



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I do not know the planning laws in France, but my instinct tells me

that this is not the way to go.

I doubt that your friends will manage to get the Association banned

from using the premises.

They might be able do do something about the parking and noise though

An association is not technically a business, as it is non-profit

making. It has officers, such as a President, Secretary and Treasurer

and these have the  responsibilities outlined in the link I gave above:



L'association peut être condamnée en tant que personne morale, tant

au niveau civil (paiement de dommages-intérêts) qu'au niveau pénal

(paiement d'une amende, dissolution).

Même si un dirigeant représente l'association au tribunal, c'est bien

l'association elle-même qui est condamnée. Mais les membres de

l'association peuvent eux aussi être condamnés, par exemple pour

mauvaise gestion. Par ailleurs, une association peut se retourner contre

un ou plusieurs de ses membres, se désolidariser d'eux, et demander à

ce que des adhérents soient condamnés à la place de l'association. En ce

qui concerne les dirigeants, leur responsabilité est appréciée par le

tribunal en fonction des faits ; ils peuvent éventuellement être

condamnés pour des actes faits par d'autres personnes (article 1384 du

code civil :
On est responsable non seulement du dommage que l'on

cause par son propre fait, mais encore de celui qui est causé par le

fait des personnes dont on doit répondre, ou des choses que l'on a sous

sa garde). La notion de responsabilité est une notion complexe ; une

association ne peut reprocher à un de ses membres d'avoir manqué à ses

fonctions (par exemple mauvaise gestion) que si cette personne avait un

mandat clair de la part de l'association (par exemple décrit dans les

statuts ou bien dans une décision du conseil d'administration) et si

cette personne avait les moyens (matériels, financiers, formation,

expérience) pour mener à bien son mandat.

Bien sûr, dans tous les cas, chaque adhérent (responsable de

l'association ou pas) doit répondre de ses propres actes selon l'article

L121-1 du code pénal (

n'est responsable pénalement que de son propre fait) et des articles

du code civil 1382 (
Tout fait quelconque de l'homme, qui cause à

autrui un dommage, oblige celui par la faute duquel il est arrivé, à le

réparer) et 1383 (
Chacun est responsable du dommage qu'il a causé

non seulement par son fait, mais encore par sa négligence ou par son


In other words the officers can be held responsible.

I would talk to the Mairie, asking if there is a 'service de conciliation'

If that fails follow this advice (from the Ministere de l'Intérieur:


" La liberté consiste à pouvoir faire tout ce qui ne nuit pas à

autrui" (extrait de l'article 4 de la Déclaration des droits de l'Homme

et du citoyen de 1789). Le respect d'autrui commence par le respect de

ses voisins.

Si la vie en société impose le voisinage, chacun

doit jouir de son logement en toute tranquillité.

Si vous rencontrez

des problèmes avec un de vos voisins, essayez toujours de le régler à


- Bruits de voisinage

Vous êtes

gêné par des bruits persistants (cris, aboiements de chiens, chutes

d'objets, etc.) provoqués par un voisin.

En cas d'échec d'un

règlement à l'amiable, faites établir un constat par la police ou la

gendarmerie ou par un huissier.

Vous pourrez ensuite adresser une

injonction par lettre recommandée à l'auteur des bruits.


n'y a aucune amélioration, vous pourrez alors demander des dommages

intérêts pour trouble de jouissance auprès du tribunal d'instance de

votre domicile (procédure civile) ou porter plainte contre l'auteur des

bruits (contravention de tapage diurne ou injurieux, délit d'agression


I leave the textes in French so they can be quoted. I am sure you can do a Google translation if needed :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Update of the position, so far.

A friend of a Friend who has links with the Turkish Community and the "powers that be" in the Town has offered to help.

A meeting was held with the Planning Dept who confirmed that the original use was for a dwelling. They asked for a change of use for a shop but that was turned down for practical reasons because of the location. Permission was given for use as a club. Its now open till very late (1.30am ) with the noise of talking and cars leaving. Often with long conversations in the lane. ( What's Turkish for CLEAR OFF }

It appears that there is no consultation with local home owners before granting permission so be warned if a house nearby becomes vacant and everything untoward happens.

It also appears that permission would have been refused if they could have acted pro actively at the beginning

A meeting is being arranged with the owner of the house and all the local home owners

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