Verging on the ridiculous

Verging on the ridiculous

Postby cheradenine » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:00 pm

Boundary at the front of our house: was chicken wire, with massive overgrowth growing so you couldn't even see it; brambles 6ft high and reaching into the road. After the fence+hedge, a grass (well, mud) verge, gentle downwards slope, road.

It's been like this well before we moved in 2 years ago - it in that state on even buried on 2008 google streetview pictures.

We have removed the fence, and will be building a wall - <= 1metre tall as it's fronting a highway.

The neighbour is starting to bleat about 'sight lines' exiting their driveway (despite the fact that walling it off will improve matters, and we are to the left of them rather than the right, so it's not nearside traffic visibility). As I pointed out that heights are a planning matter, 1m is permitted development - as predicted, the new line of attack is "you've moved the boundary'. Isn't it wonderful that the first thing you hear from neighbours these days is not 'welcome', but 'I wish to complain'..

Even if the boundary could be "proved" to have been moved (and I frankly can't tell for definite, the builder has poured the footings making changes now rather hard) - it's not their land (I guess it's either belongs to nobody, or highways? council?). I've read that you both can't and aren't allowed to scale from OS maps that purport to show boundaries. The title deed is from the early 20th century, so practically illegible.

Worst case scenario is they now kick up a fuss to whoever will listen. What's likely to happen if they do? Is there any 'magic boundary distance' I should be aware of, or things I should be cautious of?
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby mr sheen » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:59 pm

The verge is often actually part of the highway and hence under control of the local authority (even if on deeds). LA may or may not enforce the return to original position of fence. They often enforce the highway aggressively and can enforce it and bill you for their costs.

If you are formally put on notice that sight lines over original verge have been adversely affected, you leave yourself open to being sued for any accidents as a result. Of course someone may be seriously injured as a result of your actions if the verge is part of visibility splays. If everyone took over highways verges the roads would be a more dangerous place which is why LAs usually take action against offenders.
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby cheradenine » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:25 pm

But - it is my contention that it *is* at the original position of the fence (likely to within the tolerance you can actually build to). We've heard nothing from highways despite hedging nearly leaking into the road (this was part of the rationale for improving it in the first place). I.E: this ought to be a significant improvement. Particularly for us, as for *our* drive it was masking near-side traffic - albeit we are in a 20mph zone.

I.E: I'm not trying to take it over. I quite understand why that would cause problems. That was never the aim. It's still what it was before we started - ~5ft to the actual road, just without overhanging brambles. It feels like the neighbour is being deliberately argumentative. They would (for example) be worse off if I - under Permitted Development - placed a 2m high fence to the side boundary.
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby mr sheen » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:00 pm

You asked what 'could' happen........I told you what may or may not happen. Persistently/forcefully asserting your position here is pointless.....we don't care what you do or what results....just trying to describe what the situation often is with land bordering a road.

The neighbour may be being 'deliberately argumentative' or you may be land-grabbing communal land/sight line verge.....I don't know which out of these it is. If it is the former then you have nothing to worry about, if it is the latter the neighbour will probably just pass it on to the lA who may or may not take action.
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby Collaborate » Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:12 am

From your original post it's unclear where you are building the wall relative to the chickenwire fence. Can you clarify?
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby jonahinoz » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:37 am

Hi,

If the verge out side of Cheradenine's fence was the responsibility of the HA, and this road is restricted to 20mph (presumably hazardous?), surely the HA would have trashed the brambles?

It's a pity Cheradenine (or his neighbour) did not demand that the verge was cleared ... then the HA could have denied responsibility.

John W
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby cheradenine » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:36 pm

Apologies mr sheen, I was only intending to clarify that what was happening wasn't the thing that I've often seen, where someone just assumes that a grass verge is 'owned by nobody' and just arbitrarily moves their boundary. I.E: it is not my intention to be land-grabbing. Thankyou also for guiding my understanding that this is (if I'm reading you correctly) less likely to be an ownership dispute, but a highways one. Of course this will end up being a balance of risk.

Our instructions to the builder were to use the line of the chickenwire fence as the boundary (such that the outer skin of the wall will follow the same line as the old fence). But given that it's only his (or my) say-so, I don't know how helpful that is.

I didn't ask the brambles to be cut as I assumed that they would just turn round and tell me (quite rightly) to do it myself since they belonged to us and were breaching the boundary. You actually would have had to look quite closely to know there was any fence at all as it was a bit of a thicket.

The city is a blanket 20mph limit. The LA does not believe the road to be dangerous (I know this because my wife wished them to increase the height of a speed bump as it is ineffectual - was likely installed when the speed limit was higher. Their response was that they had done speed surveys, the average speed was acceptable, there have been no accidents, so it was not dangerous in their view to justify further measures).
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby MacadamB53 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:45 pm

Hi cheradenine,

After the fence+hedge, a grass (well, mud) verge, gentle downwards slope, road.

what hedge? you only mention brambles beyond the fence - is/was there also a hedge somewhere?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby Collaborate » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:50 pm

If it's been sited where the original chicken-wire fence was then you should not have a problem.
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby cheradenine » Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:39 pm

MacadamB53 -

I think I'm having a hard time describing it!

So behind the chicken wire, on our side, there were all sorts of plants that, at one time, might have been a serviceable hedge. Over many years it had grown up, and out -- so much so, that you would have had to look quite closely to see the actual chickenwire since branches had found their way through, out, and towards the road.

When we inherited it, brambles made a sizeable proportion of the hedge contents - probably choking off other plants as some had long since died, but their trunks making a handy framework for the overgrowth. Some of these brambles were over 6ft high, difficult for us to maintain/remove and, being a reasonably fast growing, the species that at one point was out as far as the kerb.

If you imagine a farmer's unmaintained hedgerow, you're probably not far off.

I was, in a way, rather surprised I hadn't been asked to deal with it before now. But it affects me more than anyone else - it's to the right of my driveway, so the overgrowth was harming my line of sight to traffic closest to us.
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby arborlad » Sat Feb 18, 2017 7:19 pm

cheradenine wrote:Boundary at the front of our house: was chicken wire,




How did the chicken wire fence line up with the neighbours on either side, if it's not noticeably forward of those two, I can't foresee any problems. Chicken wire fences have a habit of being erected where they are most useful, which is not always where the boundary is.
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby cheradenine » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:43 pm

Thanks arborlad, that's a useful point.

At their drive exit, to the right is a pavement, to the left is the ("our") verge.

I haven't measured, but I think the fencepost at that corner was slightly forward of that line (and by slightly I mean ~25cm). This may historically have been verge rather than pavement as when the road continues past our property, the land continues to get higher from the road, meaning to flatten it enough for a pavement would need a retaining wall putting in.

I am aware of the big caveats around O/S maps - but - the online planning maps that I can see show the same thing. Of course that's a distance which is well below the accuracy one can rely on. I asked my last builder, and he works to a verge of 1.75m, but I can find no basis for that "rule of thumb".

I wish I'd just put a cheap 'n' nasty bunch of fence panels in now.
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:07 pm

Hi cheradenine,

two things need to be mentioned IMHO.

first, the law presumes you own to the middle of any coextensive highways so, unless there is evidence shown which rebuts this presumption, you own the verge anyway.

if the verge is part of the highway, though, the public has a lawful right to pass and repass over it unobstructed and the council have statutory powers to take action.

whether it is part of the highway will depend on the evidence to hand, but there is another legal presumption that, where the highway is bounded by boundary features such as hedges, fences or walls, the full width available should be considered highway unless evidence dictates otherwise.

your argument that it's been buried beneath bramble is not evidence which rebuts this presumption because the council would only know to clear it if the public had complained.

second, even if this isn't part of the highway, it was not part of your garden so, technically, it could be argued that a "change of use" has occurred - and that requires planning permission.

this means it's a breach of planning law because the change has occurred without obtaining planning permission first.

when a breach of planning law occurs and the LA are made aware, they may ask the culprit to submit a retrospective application to avoid becoming subject to enforcement action.

if the culprit chooses not to follow this request the LA may then begin enforcement action - ie demand the fence is removed - or do nothing (they can not be compelled to begin enforcement action).

if the LA begin enforcement action the culprit can be taken to court if they don't comply (ie it is a criminal offence).

is your LA likely to enforce against such a technical - and arguably insignificant - breach?

that's a question to ask should they be made of the breach and ask for a retrospective application.

if the LA do nothing, after four years the breach is considered lawful as if pp had been given and enforcement action cannot be taken.

all things said, you could leave things as they are until the day you receive contact from the LA regarding either the "wilful obstruction" of the highway of the breach of planning law - at which point you could move the fence back to where they suggest.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby pilman » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:03 am

We have removed the fence, and will be building a wall - <= 1metre tall as it's fronting a highway.
I think that original posting makes most of what was just stated in the previous posting irrelevant.

There is no doubt that erecting a 1 metre high wall is permitted development, which cannot be interfered with by a local planning authority.

As for the neighbour claiming that a vision spay will be affected that is no reason why that wall cannot be erected.

As for a claim that the front boundary of the property has been moved by a few centimetres, then I would suggest that if you have acted in good faith and have placed the footings where the original wire fence was located then you just need to get on with the work required to complete the wall.

The fact that the overgrown hedge extended nearer the road than where this wall will be located does imply that no one from the highway authority is going to bother with any sort of claim that you have absorbed part of the highway verge into your property once a clearly defined boundary wall with a maximum height of 1 metre above ground level is completed.

It seems to me that the neighbour's favourite play is probably "Much ado about Nothing"
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Re: Verging on the ridiculous

Postby arborlad » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:20 pm

cheradenine wrote:MacadamB53 -

I think I'm having a hard time describing it!




No, you're doing just fine - I'm having no trouble understanding it.




I am aware of the big caveats around O/S maps - but - the online planning maps that I can see show the same thing. Of course that's a distance which is well below the accuracy one can rely on




Maps and plans are useful starting points but after that it comes down to what's on the ground.




I asked my last builder, and he works to a verge of 1.75m, but I can find no basis for that "rule of thumb".




I think the builders thumb might be a little skewed :) - I've known verges from as little as 225mm to several metres wide.
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