Toby and Jodie De Jonge have been told they have to demolish a fence around their property. The couple, from Barnoldby-le-Beck in Lincolnshire, had put up a six foot wooden fence all around their home, to protect their nine-year-old son, Sebastian, but the council has ignored their arguments and insisted that the fence has to go.
The Grimsby Telegraph reported that Sebastian has Downs Syndrome and is passionate about watching cars, and climbing. The couple were concerned that the combination would be too dangerous unless he was properly protected. They put up the fence, but were contacted by the council and told it was not in keeping with the area.
The Daily Mail reported that they explained the reason for the fence to the council, who argued that the planning rule took precedence over their concerns, because if they were to sell the property then the buyers wouldn't have the same reasons for needing the fence, but would be able to keep it anyway.
The couple appealed the decision but it was dismissed. They collected a 4,000 signature petition in their support, but it was rejected. They also offered to plant around the fence to screen it, but the council refused.
The couple said they would not comply with the order, and the council said they should get in touch to try to reach an agreement.
Tough on fences
It's not the first time councils have got tough on fences. Perhaps most famously, Kate Winslet disagreed with her council about installing a fence at her property in the South Downs. The Daily Telegraph reported in 2014 that she had wanted to ensure her privacy by putting a wicker fence around her garden and 6ft 6in gates, but the council was said to have refused as it wasn't considered to be in keeping with the area. Shortly afterwards, she was said to be looking to sell the property.
Councils are happy to spend a small fortune insisting people follow their orders too. In August 2011, a couple from Nether Compton in Dorset, hit the headlines over a fence disagreement. They had used a gate leading from their garden to the play area next door for more than 19 years. They applied for planning permission to replace the fence and gate, and the council insisted they block the gate off. The couple refused, so the council showed up and built a short section of fence across the gate. The ensuing legal battle to have the fence removed cost the council £14,000.
And councils are pretty militant about walls too. Back in 2013 we reported on the landscape gardener from Bromsgrove who had given his garden a £4,000 makeover - including building a wall around the edge of it. Unfortunately the council insisted he demolish it, because the garden had once been used as a public highway, so technically it had to be maintained as a highway rather than a garden. It meant that he was forbidden from building anything on it. After a four-year legal battle, he was forced to knock the wall down.