The Gazette

‘Land grab’ claim over work done to open space


- By GARETH LIGHTFOOT Local democracy reporter

A PLAN to bring land into residentia­l use at a Wynyard home has been approved despite claims it was a “land grab”.

The plan for the site at The Stables was retrospect­ive as work had already been carried out, with a wall demolished, a boundary fence erected without consent and land levelled out to create a enclosed second garden level.

It went to Stockton Council’s planning committee for a final decision after the authority said the landowner’s work was unauthoris­ed and unacceptab­le.

Planning service manager Simon Grundy said: “The matter was picked up on with a planning enforcemen­t investigat­ion. The applicant has already demolished the existing original wall at the rear of the property and incorporat­ed the area of land beyond.

“Following discussion­s with the applicant, they’ve submitted a revised plan.”

Under the new plan, the applicant will reduce the area of land, remove the fencing and build a new boundary wall with fence at about 1.8m high, in line with neighbouri­ng properties.

According to the council’s report, eight people objected to the proposal, saying work went ahead without consultati­on, the fence was out of keeping with the area and “has seen another neighbour opposite erect an additional fence”, and “this garden extension has already encouraged others to consider a similar land grab”.

Objections also concerned loss of open space, privacy, visual impact, property values and setting a precedent.

However planning officers recommende­d the plan for approval.

Mr Grundy said: “The primary purpose of the open space is an amenity area providing an attractive walking route through residentia­l developmen­t.

“It’s not considered that the very small area of enclosure will fundamenta­lly affect the purpose of the open space.”

Councillor Barry Woodhouse said: “I do get ever so slightly annoyed. I call it land-grabbing.

“I was minded to refuse it, to be honest. However the proposed plan is far better, it’s an improvemen­t on what’s there... but what’s there at the minute is illegal.”

He suggested to “knock it down, put the boundary back where it was, leave it at that”.

Cllr Paul Kirton said: “It’s about the householde­r’s privacy and it’s not a land grab. “I can’t see any problem with it.”

The plan was approved with a 10-1 vote.

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