Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Woman told by planners to rebuild her garden wall

A WOMAN has been ordered to rebuild a garden wall after knocking it down without planning permission.

A WOMAN has been ordered to rebuild a garden wall after knocking it down without planning permission.

Diana Hunter wanted more room at the front of her house in St Andrew’s Road, Henley, to improve access and safety.

But South Oxfordshire District Council has rejected her retrospective planning application and issued her with an enforcement notice.

Mrs Hunter, a director of Waitrose, says the decision has left her “baffled” and she will appeal.

The wall was about 0.5m high and 3.1m long and abutted the road where there is a dropped kerb.

Mrs Hunter demolished it to provide better access to the hard-standing in front of her home.

She said the wall was “not very nice” and that cars were parked in front of it, making it difficult for her and her next-door neighbour to enter and exit.

Mrs Hunter said: “People used to park right up to my wall, which meant I only had a narrow space to exit. It was incredibly dangerous…. the number of times that cars came flying down St Andrew’s Road and had to brake when they saw me nudging out. It is now significantly safer.

“My neighbours and I are delighted with it because it is safer. A number of people have said to me, ‘thank-you very much, it is much better’.

“I couldn’t believe that the application was refused — I am baffled. To put the wall back would be crazy.”

Mrs Hunter had to apply for planning permission because her house is in the St Mark’s Road conservation area, which means there are tight rules on development. She said: “This end of the road is a conservation area and I totally agree with it. Everyone needs to take care of their property.

“But the original wall was not in keeping with the house — it was a modern brick wall. Our house is semi-detached and so pretty.”

Mrs Hunter, who used to live in Berkshire Road, hopes to persuade council planning officers to visit the house so they can see why the wall had to go. She said: “It is significantly better now.”

Her application was supported by neighbours. Sarah Hillas, who also lives in St Andrew’s Road, said: “I was delighted when the current occupants removed this ill- fitting, ugly wall to expose this gorgeous period house along with its recent, sympathetic modernisation.”

Alison McLoughlin, of St Mark’s Road, said: “I walk past this property regularly and visited often in 2010 and 2011 as our daughter is friendly with the former occupants’ daughter.

“The old wall was falling down and spoilt the appearance of this lovely house. I was very pleased to see it gone and am in complete support of this application.” Steven Esom, of Rupert Close, said: “As a prospective resident of this area, I believe the new treatment is a great improvement on the previous wall, which was leaning badly, and improves the view of the property.”

Richard Bell, who sold the house to Mrs Hunter and now lives in Basmore Lane, Lower Shiplake, said he had been granted permission to remove the wall and create a larger driveway.

“When the road was resurfaced, the kerb was lowered by the council on this basis,” he said. “We never got round to knocking the wall down as we used the space to store kayaks instead but I wholeheartedly support this application. The wall was ugly and removing it not only reveals a beautiful house but also matches the frontage of the sister house.”

Council planning officer Ian Severn said that although the wall was made from different materials to the house and was felt by some to have been of poor quality, it nevertheless “contributed positively to the character and appearance of the conservation area”.

Adrian Duffield, head of planning at the district council, added: “The removal of the wall does not preserve or enhance the established character of the St Mark’s Road conservation area, rather having a negative impact on the street scene, which is key to its character.”

Mrs Hunter has been given until next month to reinstate the wall.

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