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Need some advice/sympathy about PP situation relating to boundary fences/walls

(3 Posts)
HittingABrickWall Mon 29-Dec-14 11:11:57

I have namechanged to prevent being outed.

I live on a small estate (130 houses) built in the 1970s. It's on a hill, so the road/footpaths slope significantly in relation to the gardens. The street layout is unusual, with some houses having their back gardens bordering the road/footpath. These houses have brick walls around the gardens.

Our house is on a corner with the pavement/road on one side and a public footpath down the other. We have a brick wall running the entire length of our boundary (about 50m long). It is 1.8m tall. On the public footpath side our garden varies from being just below the level of the footpath (about 8 inches) to about 12 inches above. On the road side, the garden is a street level at one end and about 1m above it at the other. Hence, the wall is retaining quite a lot of earth in places.

Basically, the wall is crap. It is half-brick width with supporting piers that do not extend to the full height of the wall at its tallest. At 1.8m it is too tall for its construction. The mortar is weak and bricks can be pulled off the top. There are no footings, and on the part of the wall that runs behind our neighbours house (so their responsibility) the bottom course of bricks has sunk away from the rest of the wall leaving a gap of about 1 cm. The same wall construction is being used for the retaining section of wall and it has no drainage whatsoever. Hence, it is bowing outwards.

Last winter 3 of the walls on the estate fell down. The owners simply rebuilt them in the same design. Looking around the estate the same issues are visible with many of the walls (which have been repaired/replaced in parts). One even has 'danger' brush painted on the side of it.

In the high winds a few weeks ago part of our wall fell down. Luckily, no-one was hurt as it fell the full width of the pavement. Our insurance company sent a loss adjuster out who said that it was wear and tear and, as the wall is not of a 'serviceable' construction would cease covering us for public liability. So, we are now in a position where the entire 50m length needs rebuilding.

Now, we have known for some time that this was coming. We have done re-pointing/rebuilding work on it over the years but we have been aware that the wall was basically rubbish. The nail in the coffin is the removal of the public liability which means we really have to do something.

We are having other unrelated building work done and we got our builders plus some others to do some quotes. We are going to get a proper retaining wall built with drainage (which should help the garden in the long term) but intend to use a good quality wooden fence rather than build another brick wall. Building a proper brick wall to current standards would be just too expensive for us. It is going to be an expensive job as it is - largely due to the amount of earth and low quality undesirable bricks that need to be removed from site.

Our builders came back with the best quote, so they're going to do the work. All well and good......

However, our architect has contacted the council who have advised him that we need full planning permission as it is 1.8m tall and a 'change in structure'. They will not allow it under PD. They require this whether we build a fence or double brick-width wall. The only way we wouldn't need PP would be to rebuild the wall AS IT IS (ie crap).

So, what do we do if they refuse planning permission for a fence? We just don't have the money to build a wall to current standards, and the current wall has to go. Is there any way of forcing the council's had based on the fact that the wall is unsafe/crap and they originally signed the build off when the estate was built?

Luckily, our insurance company has agreed to cover us for public liability while we are 'doing what is practically possible' to move the replacement forwards.

OMG that was long...

pebblepots Mon 29-Dec-14 22:05:35

You have my sympathy, dealing with the planning dept is hard work. Did they indicate if the wooden fence proposal would be viewed favourably? How will a wooden fence retain the earth in the places where the levels vary?

I am certainly no expert, but don't think you'd get very far with this:
"Is there any way of forcing the council's had based on the fact that the wall is unsafe/crap and they originally signed the build off when the estate was built?"

HittingABrickWall Fri 02-Jan-15 21:24:27

Thanks for the reply. They didn't indicate whether or not the application for a fence would be viewed favourably, but that's because it was the 'planning' department rather than the 'building control' one. I think building control have been concerned about the state of the brick walls on the street for some time and further digging has shown that our neighbour came within a hair's-breadth of having a demolition order put on their wall.

We won't be retaining earth with a fence. We are going to build a retaining wall from concrete blocks with proper footings and drainage and will then put a fence around the perimeter. It's all going to be v. expensive... sad

Oh well, we have to just wait and see (something I'm not good at).

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