Lawyers called in to deal with fence fury in Wisbech street
- Credit: Harry Rutter
A row has broken out in a quiet Wisbech street after a wooden fence suddenly appeared outside Graham Longmate’s home – put up by a neighbour who lives opposite.
It has led to a massive fall-out among residents of Kestrel Drive, Wisbech, angry exchanges, a flurry of legal threats and the possibility of court action.
The fence was put up by Mark Atkins who claims it is the only effective remedy to stop his driveway from being blocked by visiting cars.
He claims to have the legal right to do so – a view now being challenged after lawyers and the company that built the estate got involved.
Mr Atkins is adamant that he owns “the part of the drive that the trellis is on” but it is clear that this dispute has led to tension within Kestrel Drive.
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He denies causing any trouble in erecting the fence and says that he has never had any trouble with his neighbours in 20 plus years of living there.
Resolution could boil down to who actually owns the road and the suggestion there are covenants that could mean the fence will have to be taken down.
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Mr Atkins erected the fence outside of Graham Longmate’s home in Kestrel Drive around two months ago.
The brown trellis panels sit just over a metre away from the side of the property, covering his front windows.
Mr Longmate has lived in his bungalow home since last September but before that he had rented it to tenants since 2008.
Mr Atkins outlined his version of events in a letter to our editor.
And it comes after Mr Longmate reckons to have spent “thousands” on legal fees to get the matter resolved.
Mr Atkins said: “We are not going to get into the act of mud slinging. But we will provide you with our side of the issue.
“Firstly as you see from the letter from my neighbour’s solicitor to us, we own the part of the drive that the trellis is on. The drive is kept clear so as not to cause an inconvenience to other residents who use it for access to their homes.
“Since my neighbour bought his property as a buy to let some years ago, other than one family who lived there, we have had problems with his tenants parking on our drive and causing obstructions for other residents and ourselves due to their parking.
“I have raised this problem with the landlord on a number of occasions, but to no avail.
“The landlord moved into the property several months ago, on his doing so I approached him and said ‘let’s put the history behind us, and just be neighbours. But please do not park on my drive’. We shook hands.
“The following day my drive was blocked with vehicles attending his property (not delivery vans). And ever since it was frequently obstructed with parked vehicles, causing anyone who wished to pass, to partially drive over other people’s gardens or seek out the vehicle owners and ask them to move.
“The last time I approached somebody parked on my drive to ask them to move, it almost ended up in an assault on us.
“So I decided to erect a trellis on my drive to make it clearly obvious that if you park there, you will cause an obstruction.
“May I add that in the 20 plus years that we have lived here, our visitors, family and ourselves have never parking on that part of the drive so as not to cause an inconvenience to our neighbours.
“We are not trying to depict ourselves as whiter than white, we are just normal everyday people.”
In a solicitors letter sent on behalf of Mr Longmate to Mr Atkins it states: “The Accessway in question provides access to Kestrel Drive for 5 properties including your property together with our client’s property and numbers 21, 34 and 36 Kestrel Drive.
“A Land Registry Map Search of this area identifies that the Accessway is owned in part by each of the owners of these 5 properties, with each owner having part of the Accessway within their title.
“Our client’s position is therefore that each owner of property owns only that which is recorded on the plans of their own property.”
Anna Longmate, Graham’s daughter, who also lives in Wisbech, has been at the centre of the ongoing dispute for some time.
She has feared for her father’s health and the upset caused in the road since the incident began.
She added: “I think that it is all lies. He did not approach my dad nor speak to him about any of this.
“It is a private road and there is a covenant that says he is not allowed to put any fence or trellis up on the road.”
Reason Homes, who are the property developers, say they are aware of the situation and working to resolve it.
Wisbech councillor Samantha Hoy, who had been to investigate was also puzzled.
“I’m quite saddened by the situation,” she said. “I know that the neighbours are very unhappy about it all. I think it’s really sad.
“I have spoken to the planning department at Fenland Council but because the site is owned by the developer Reason Homes there is nothing they can do. I just hope it gets resolved.”