A YOUNG couple are being forced to rip down the garden fence they built to protect their kids – even though no one complained.
Lucy and Will Jex from Ely in Cambridgeshire put a wooden fence around their family home to keep their two little children and dog safe.
The couple built the fence for more privacy than what the original low brick wall offeredCredit: Caters
One-year-old Mimi and five-year-old Harry play in the garden with their pup, so their parents naturally wanted to have some security around the property for peace of mind.
But East Cambridgeshire District Council is ordering Lucy and Will to tear the fence down.
Council bureaucrats told the couple they needed planning permission before erecting the neat 6ft fence around their half million pound house.
The surprised Jex family hadn’t been aware they needed planning permission before and had spent £2,500 on timber and equipment to build the fence completely by themselves.
Following the council’s response, the couple made a retrospective application after the fence had been built which cost £234.
Yet the councillors’ decision to turn this application down means they can’t keep their brand new partition.
The council insisted the wooden fence ruined the appearance of the leafy neighbourhood, even though none of their neighbours had raised this complaint.
Even after Lucy and Will appealed, the Planning Inspectorate still backed the council’s decision, ruling that the fence caused “significant harm to the character and appearance of the area”.
But neighbour and retired council official Ann Baker, 73, who lives opposite the Jexs’ house in Dunstan Street, said: “It’s barmy.
“I fully support Lucy and Will over this. So do all the other neighbours. None of us have any problem at all with their fence.
“It doesn’t affect us and the couple need privacy and security for their two young children.”
Marketing executive Lucy said: “We had no idea we needed planning permission when we put up the fence soon after moving into the house last year.
“One reason was for privacy because there is a bus stop next to our home and people sitting on the existing low wall could look straight into our living room.
It’s barmy. None of us have any problem at all with their fence.
“But the main reason was the security and safety of our two young children and our two dogs when they are playing outside in the garden.
“We didn’t want to upset anybody and are keen to be part of the community. But none of our neighbours has complained – in fact they have all been very supportive.
“Even the Highways Authority has no objections because it does not affect safety.
“Only the local council is upset. But we are talking to them and hope that we can reach some sort of compromise which will keep everybody happy.”
Planning inspector David Reed , who turned down the couple’s appeal, stated: “The main issue is the effect on the character and appearance of the area.
“The fence as erected is particularly intrusive in the street scene.
“While there are other unscreened fences in the area, this does not justify a further erosion of a relatively verdant neighbourhood.
“The fence causes significant harm to the character and appearance of the area.”
The council said in a statement: “East Cambridgeshire District Council has to assess proposals in accordance with national and local policies and make recommendations and decisions based on these, only material planning considerations can be given weight.
“In this instance, the Planning Officer recommended the retrospective planning application was refused on the grounds the fence did not comply with two policies in the Local Development Plan and Chapter 12 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
“As is their right, the applicant appealed our decision, however, this appeal has since been dismissed by the Planning Inspector for reasons given in his report.”