East Lothian planners take offence at 'alien' fence move

A homeowner has been ordered to tear down a side fence she moved forward a few feet after planners ruled it was ‘alien’ and out of place.

Monday, 16th August 2021, 3:09 pm

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Elaine Smedley had no idea that moving the fence at the side of her new home in Letham Mains, Haddington, would need planning permission.

But when East Lothian Council was alerted to the change their officers ruled the wooden fence breached its open garden policy ruling it was now a high front garden fence – which is banned.

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Fencing with East Lothian Council: Elaine Smedley

Elaine is now battling an enforcement order from the council demanding she take the wooden fence down.

She said: “It seems very unjust, the fence is at the side of the house and it seemed to make sense to move it forward.

“The house across the road has a wall as high and that was given the go ahead.”

Elaine moved the fence forward after moving into her home in David’s Way and finding the the 1.8 metre fence, which ran parallel to the house between her property and her neighbours, virtually split her side garden into two parts.

Fence row: Elaine's home

It made sense to move it forward a few feet to enclose the entire side garden and mirrors a number of other properties on the site where high walls and fencing is in place.

However after the council was told about the change, officers ordered her to apply for planning permission which they then refused ruling the fence was ‘alien’ and looked out of place.

In a report by planning officers they said the fence, and a side gate added to it “appear alien and out of keeping with the largely low front roadside boundary enclosures of other houses of the development.”

In the report the officers acknowledge that the original 1.8 metre fence which encompassed the “side garden” was given planning permission describing the strip of garden between the fence and a boundary wall a few feet in front of it as a “another smaller area of garden to the north side of the house.”

When Elaine moved the fence forward to just behind the wall creating a gate entrance at the side, officers ruled it was now a front garden fence, which breaches their rules.

Elaine has lodged an appeal with Scottish Ministers after the council pushed ahead with enforcement action to have the fence taken down.

In her appeal she told Scottish Ministers she was not familiar with the planning process when she first tried to apply for permission for the fence and wants the enforcement order put on hold so she can apply again to the council again and try and find a solution.

She said: “These have been exceptionally tough times for all of us and I would feel a little flexibility for me as the homeowner is warranted.”

The council has been given three weeks to respond to the Scottish Government Reporter.

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