DC Casebook: Householder Development - Fence and hedge removal found justified

Three appeals over the incorporation of farmland in Leicestershire into domestic gardens have been dismissed following a ruling that fences, hedges and trees fall in the scope of enforcement powers.

The land had been enclosed by fences and hedges. The appellants claimed that the fences were permitted development. Alternatively, they asserted that the fences did no more than demarcate the plots and were not part and parcel of a material change of use. The planting of hedges and trees did not involve development and so could not be subject to enforcement action, they maintained.

The council cited the ruling in Murfitt v Secretary of State for the Environment and East Cambridgeshire District Council [1980] that an enforcement notice directed against an unauthorised change of use can require the removal of ancillary operational development. Somak Travel Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment and London Borough of Brent [1987] also provides for removal of works even if they fall outside the definition of development, it added.

The inspector decided that the fences did more than demarcate plot ownership. They created gardens by preventing encroachment of livestock and creating privacy, he observed. An unfenced garden or one without boundary hedges and trees would not work in practice, he opined. Removal of the fencing was necessary despite falling within permitted development limits. The hedging and trees should also be cleared even though they were not development, he concluded.

DCS Number 100-064-734

Inspector Clive Whitehouse; Written representations

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