Council intervenes over Harpenden couple’s boundary dispute

TWO planning applications at the heart of a row over a boundary dispute which resulted in a couple’s garden wall being demolished while they were on holiday have been declared invalid.

Mike Gibb and his wife Susan Bates returned to their home in Station Road, Harpenden, last week to find that not only had the wall between their property and the building yard in Cowper Road at the back of their home been demolished but a new fence installed one metre inside the boundary of their property. In addition two trees which acted as a screen had been cut down.

The strip of land which has been removed from their property is the subject of a boundary dispute but the couple have lived in their home for 20 years without any claim on it.

A St Albans council enforcement officer and tree expert were due to visit the couple’s home today (Thursday) to discuss the situation and see for themselves what has happened.

But the applications from Greenways Properties to demolish the building yard, which is in a conservation area, and construct two five-bedroomed houses have now been declared invalid by the council.

Laurence Moore, the council’s planning and building control development manager, confirmed that they had been made invalid as they included land within the highway and the applicant had not served notice on the highway authority.

Cllr Mike Weaver, who represents Harpenden West ward on the district council, had already asked for the applications to be “called in” for a decision by committee rather than planning officers and said this week he intended to do the same again as and when a new application was received. He added: “I feel it is in the public interest that we are transparent about this.”

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Mike Gibb, who contacted the council as soon as the couple returned from holiday and saw what had been done to their garden, said this week: “There is going to be new plans submitted which, I suspect won’t be any different from the previous one.”

He maintains that the reason why a metre of their garden was taken was because it effectively “squared off” the construction site.”

He added: “We are still in the process of doing what we can in terms of legal redress. It is extremely complicated.”