Couple win planning battle to remove 20ft high metal ‘rollercoaster’ ruining garden view

A couple who claimed their garden view was wrecked by a timber yard erecting unsightly 20ft high metal racking have won a planning battle to get it removed.

Jenny Mason, 46, and Stuart Dodd, 48, had been able to gaze out on trees and distant fields when they bought their £325,000 semi-detached house in April.

But they were left shocked in July when the 118ft long row of metal racking was erected on the other side of their fence in Roudham, near East Harling, Norfolk.

The structure which the couple have likened to a “rollercoaster” was built 60ft back from their fence without planning consent in the yard of Crendon Timber Engineering.

Ms Mason described the steel racking as a “monstrosity” and a “disgusting sight” which has made it impossible to enjoy her back garden.

The timber yard was forced to apply for retrospective planning permission from Breckland Council to try and keep the racking which it erected for the storage of its products.

But council officers refused consent for the structure after protests about it were raised by several neighbours as well as the local parish council.

Officers described it as “a visually prominent feature which fails to add to the overall quality of the area and would be detrimental to the appearance of the street scene and the character of the area”.

They added: “The issues are so fundamental to the proposal that it has not been possible to negotiate a satisfactory solution and due to the harm which has been clearly identified within the reason(s) for the refusal, approval has not been possible”.

Mother-of-three Ms Mason said she was “over the moon” with the decision which will effectively force the timber yard to dismantle the racking or face potential enforcement action.

She said: “My neighbour came round yesterday and said ‘Yay, we’ve done it!’

“The fact that we’ve sat and looked at it for six weeks, with no planning permission, and now it’s been refused – that’s made us all really angry.

“We’ve had so much support from the community. We’ve all stuck together and just done everything we can possibly can. The fact that it’s been refused is massive.”

Ms Mason who works with special needs adults and Mr Dodd said they had hoped to enjoy a peaceful rural life in Roudham after moving from their former home in Slough, Berkshire.

She said: “We absolutely loved this house when we bought it.

“We knew there was a timber yard on the other side of the fence, but it didn’t bother us. It was supposed to be our dream home.

“We could live with a little bit of noise, having previously been in Slough where we were only a few minutes from Heathrow and had planes flying overhead.”

Landscape architect Mr Dodd said he realised something was being built when he returned from work and heard the sound of a digger.

He looked over his fence to ask contractors what they were doing and was told that they were “putting up a steel structure”.

Mr Dodd said he immediately went to the yard to complain and was told by staff that they had planning consent for the work.

But when he checked with Breckland Council, he found that no application had been made.

Around a week later, the racking suddenly appeared while the couple were out at work.

Ms Mason said: “I suddenly saw this cherry picker and the giant racking when I looked out of my bathroom window.

“I went round to the yard and told them, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ We got hold of the planning department and they asked them to stop, but they didn’t.

“They claimed they had to carry on with the work as the contractors had already been paid and it could be difficult to stop halfway.

“The council made them apply for retrospective planning permission, and has banned them from stacking anything on the racks until after a decision is made.

“But we think that they should be made to tear it down now. It is an eyesore which they have put up without permission with no thought for their neighbours.

“It has ruined our enjoyment of our garden. Who wants to sit out and look at this monstrosity?

“It is just disgusting and awful. I don’t see how it can be allowed. It is hideous.

“The manager of the yard got a bit funny with us, and said that all the neighbours were being very frosty.

“We know people have got to make a living, and it wouldn’t be so bad if it was a bit lower. But at the moment it is just too damn high.”

Planning documents submitted to the council by Crendon Timber Engineering described the racking as evidence of the firm’s “long term investment” in their site.

A design and access statement drawn up by agents acting for the firm said the racking would provide “much needed additional storage capacity, which is necessary to meet current and future demands, especially with the growing housing market.”

The statement said that racking was “likely to have little to no impact on the local area, including residential properties” even though it was “visible from some of the residential properties on Harling Road”.

It added: “The proposal should have minimal noise impact, as the area is currently used for storage by the Applicant”

The statement also claimed that the racking would allow the firm “to work more efficiently with less vehicle movements and a safer alternative to the current storage”.

The firm’s branch director said he understood local residents’ concerns. He claimed that there had been “informal conversations” with them to see whether the racking’s appearance could be improved.