Parents’ fury after being ordered to tear down 6ft garden fence built to keep their disabled daughter, 10, from running out onto the road – or face going to court
- Cliff and Dawn Baker’s daughter TJ White has autism and learning difficulties
- The 10-year-old had been running out onto the road so the fence kept her safe
Cliff and Dawn Baker got permission from their landlord to put up the fence after their daughter TJ White, 10, kept escaping and running out onto the road.
TJ has autism, learning difficulties and is one of only two people in the world with a rare chromosome depletion – which leaves her behaviour hard to predict.
The couple say they have also provided a paediatrician’s letter and medical records that proved the need for the fence for the youngster’s own safety.
But after forking out more than £1,000 on a new fence in their garden in Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, they were left stunned when council bosses demanded they rip it down.
Cliff and Dawn Baker got permission from their landlord to put up the fence after their daughter TJ White (all pictured together), 10, kept escaping and running out onto the road
Planning inspectors first told them it was a road safety hazard but when this was proved not to be the case, the parents claim it was then said to be a ‘street scene’ issue instead.
Cliff and Dawn paid more than £400 to appeal the decision – but that was also rejected by Newark and Sherwood District Council.
Town hall chiefs have now told them to reduce the fence to 3.3ft or erect a hedge but the family say this would still allow their daughter to get out.
The couple have been given until February next year to amend the fence or reduce it’s size and say they have been threatened with court action if they refuse.
Cliff, 43, who is a full-time carer with his wife, said: ‘It’s ridiculous – we could end up with a criminal record just for trying to keep our daughter safe.
‘Her wellbeing comes first and we just can’t understand why there has been no common sense in this matter. They won’t let us keep TJ safe.
‘She has no road sense. She could be hit by a car if she jumps or leaves, someone could harm her.
‘Do they really want that on their conscience if anything happens to her?
‘We built this fence just so she had a safespace. When we go out we have to grab hold of her and this garden is really her only sanctuary.’
Cliff and Dawn first got the green light from their landlord 18 months ago to build the fence not knowing it would need planning permission.
The house used to have a picket fence but TJ was removing it and pushing it out, so there was a need for a taller and stronger fence.
They believe just one neighbour complained to the local authority after it was built prompting planning inspectors to visit the property around a year ago.
The couple say they have also provided a paediatrician’s letter and medical records that proved the need for the fence for the youngster’s own safety
TJ also has chromosome 4q26q27 depletion – which is so unique she is believed to be only one of two people in the world with it.
Mum Dawn, 48, added: ‘The paediatricians know that little about it that its significance it not really known.
‘They say they will review it when she’s older at around aged 13. The medical issues are hard enough to cope with without having this fence row on top of everything.
‘All we want is the best for our daughter.’
Lisa Hughes, the council’s business manager for planning development, said: ‘We can’t go into specific detail regarding the case, however, we did follow the appropriate planning rules and law when investigating this case.
‘We conducted our investigations and found that the height of the fence contradicted national legislation and was negatively impacting upon local amenity.
‘A notice was issued requiring that the fence be reduced in height to one metre, the maximum height permitted adjacent to a highway.
‘This is obviously a difficult and emotional case; we wanted to help the applicant and have offered alternative solutions, which have been supported by the Planning Inspector, but unfortunately these have thus far been turned down by the applicant.
‘We are sorry to hear the applicant is frustrated by this decision but we are still open to working with them to find an alternative if possible.’
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