Couple who replaced 20ft hedge with 6ft fence in battle to keep it

Ronald and Jennifer Anderson removed the hedge after it had become so tall it 'blocked out the sun'.

East Lothian couple who replaced 20ft hedge with 6ft fence in battle to keep it LDRS

A retired couple who replaced a 20ft high hedge at the side of their home with a 6ft fence are fighting to keep it after planners ruled it was not acceptable.

Ronald and Jennifer Anderson removed the hedge after it had become so tall it towered over the street lamppost and “blocked out the sun”, but replaced it with a fence to ensure the garden remained safe for their dog.

However, East Lothian Council planning officers told them they needed to apply for planning permission for the new fence and then, when they did, rejected the application.

But the couple are appealing the decision to the council’s Local Review Body after pointing out they have planted climbers in front of the fence which will cover it in a short space of time.

Hedge outside house in Pencaitland grew so high it overshadowed the lamppost.LDRS

They launched a blistering attack on the planning officer who visited their home when Ms Anderson was on her own to take pictures of their fence, claiming he acted like a dog thief or a house-breaker.

In his appeal to the review body, which will hear the case later this month, Mr Anderson said the young council worker turned up unannounced, wearing a baseball cap and leaning over the garden wall with a camera and no ID.

“It was pointed out to him that this is also a means used by people to steal dogs and break into houses,” Mr Anderson said.

“By putting my wife in a state of fear and alarm this constitutes a breach of the peace.”

Ronald Anderson and the family dog Barclay enjoy their garden.LDRS

Speaking at his home in the village of Pencaitland, Mr Anderson said the behaviour of the council officer and the decision to refuse planning permission “beggared belief”.

He said: “The fence was put up in 2020 and cost around £1,500 but it replaced a 20ft high hedge which blocked my neighbour’s sunlight.

“The main part of our garden is to the side of the house and we need a secure boundary for our dog Barclay so he can enjoy the outside safely.

“The council had no contact with us apart from turning up unannounced and taking pictures in a very inappropriate way. When the officer involved was confronted about the way he acted he said he did not have time to call or email us in advance and we ‘should have expected a visit’.

“The whole thing has been ridiculous and frustrating. The hedge was allowed under planning policy but the replacement fence is not? It beggars belief.”

Mr Anderson said the couple set the fence back by a foot from the front garden wall and planted laurel and climbing plants between the two so the fence will not be visible from the road once they have grown.

However planners ruled the fence was ‘not appropriate; for its setting and out of character with the ‘largely low front roadside boundary enclosures’ They added it would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ for front gardens in the area.

The Local Review Body will hold a virtual hearing of the appeal on Thursday, July 20.

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