Owner who replaced 1.8m fence with 1.2m wall told to demolish it for being 'too high'

A man standing next to a long sandstone garden wall next to a road
The long sandstone garden wall was apparently built too high and that the wall is attached to a listed bridge (Image credit: SWNS)

Planning officials have told a homeowner who built a £12,000 on a sandstone wall to pull it down because the structure is 20cm too high.

Bear Mason, 74, of Greenhead in Northumberland, built the 4ft wall to replace a run-down six foot wooden fence surrounding his garden without planning permission.

The new wall is lower than the original fence but Northumberland County Council, responding to a complaint, says it’s attached to a listed bridge.

What was built?

Bear told the Hexham Courier: "This summer we paid £12,000 on a beautiful new wall between our garden and the military road.

"The wooden fence was 1.8 m high and was falling to bits, and it was liable to collapse in high winds.”

Mr Mason says he built the stone cladding wall to be 1.2m high because there is a two-metre drop into the garden from the pavement but the council stipulates it should be a metre high.

He added: “Because the wooden fence was much taller than its stone replacement, we had no idea it or the new wall would contravene their regulations.

"We are pensioners. We don’t have £12,000 to rebuild it. Our wall is so much nicer than what was there before and safe. We are mortified.”

The issue highlights the fence vs wall debate when deciding garden wall ideas.

The fence the wall replaced

The fence the wall replaced in Greenhead (Image credit: Google)

Owner told to tear wall down after complaint

The council received a complaint and told Mr Mason the wall must be reduced in height and removed from the bridge, or torn down.

"It is lower than the rickety fence it replaced,” Mr Mason added. “Northumberland County Council have told us that they are now going to bulldoze it down unless we pay to have it lowered by eight inches."

The couple will now apply for retrospective permission to keep the wall despite the council’s planning conditions.

Why has owner been told to remove wall if it is smaller than the wooden panels it replaced?

A spokesperson from Northumberland County Council said the wall is too high, despite being shorter than the boundary intended to replace fence panels.

They added: "We were made aware that a wall had been built at this property without planning permission and on further inspection it was found to be attached to a listed bridge. For that reason it is not acceptable and we have asked that it is removed.

"We have also given the householder the option to reduce it in height to one metre and remove it from the listed bridge."

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.