Couple Faces Planning Charge After Growing Vegetables in Their Garden

Couple Faces Planning Charge After Growing Vegetables in Their Garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A Lincolnshire couple have been ordered to pay £462 for planning permission to grow vegetables on a patch in their garden. 

Lee and Kirstie Lawes, from Deeping St James, south Lincolnshire, had spent roughly £3,000 developing their patch in January 2021 so they could grow their own produce.

They installed a new fence, laid gravel and raised vegetable beds on an unfenced patch of lawn towards the rear of the garden. But while they confirmed the land was part of their property through Land Registry records, they were unaware they needed to apply for planning permission to do so.

Earlier this year, South Kesteven District Council told the couple that part of the garden was classified as ‘informal open space’, meaning the public should be able to access it freely. 

Officials ruled that the couple’s transformation was a “change of use from open space to residential garden”, and the pair have been told they need to apply for planning permission, or face enforcement action. 

In a letter, the council said: "Failure to do so may result in formal enforcement action being considered and a lack of planning permission may result in problems with any sale of re-mortgage of the property in the future."

Know When to Plan Ahead

Knowing which projects require planning permission can be problematic if you believe you own the land you’re building on, but it’s always beneficial to plan ahead and investigate whether any improvements you want to make require council approval.

In some instances, breaching planning laws can result in jail time, yet even if you get rejected for planning permission, this doesn’t have to be a death knell for your project. Your council may suggest changes that need to occur in order for it to be approved, and you can subsequently apply again.  

In response to the council’s letter, Mr Lawes told the Rutland & Stamford Mercury: "I accept they are following procedure but it's the hypocrisy of it that I find frustrating. The government is telling us to be more sustainable but when someone starts to 'grow their own', the council tells you to pay £462 for the privilege.”

A spokesman for South Kesteven District Council said: "We have been advising them throughout on the lawful use of this land and continue to offer informal help while encouraging them to apply for planning permission, without which they might struggle to re-mortgage or sell the property." 

Jack Woodfield
News Editor

Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms. 

He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.