Couple fight to save their dream garden

Thurrock Gazette: Michael Dunn on the small bridge in his garden that the council want torn down Michael Dunn on the small bridge in his garden that the council want torn down

A COUPLE ordered to tear up their picturesque front garden by the council claim they have been “treated like criminals”.

Michael, 69 and Patricia Dunn, 74, of China Lane, Bulphan have been ordered to take down a small footbridge, remove a footpath and tear up ornamental plants in their front garden, as they allegedly breach strict planning rules.

And the Dunns are now at their wits-end, having carefully transformed the land - which they have owned for 20 years - into a garden paradise, costing thousands of pounds, over the last three years.

The couple laid the path, replaced a small wooden bridge crossing a ditch to access the land with a new, safer crossing for their young grandchildren and planted numerous shurbs and flowers.

But after “receiving a complaint”, the council ordered the garden to be torn up as it was an “unauthorised use of the land”.

Mr Dunn, a former casino inspector, said: “We bought the land as an extension to our garden and have always treated it as such. We decided to develop it and make it a bit nicer.

“We were probably naive in that we didn’t realise we had to apply for planning permission, but there’s an ethos in Bulphan of making and keeping your gardens nice. We struggle to see the arguments against it.

“It’s not exactly Kew Gardens, it’s just a nice country garden. It’s unbelievable. It’s been really stressful for us - we feel like we’ve been treated like criminals and singled out.”

The couple, who have lived in the property for 30 years, have spent thousands of pounds fighting the council over the issue.

The local authority served an enforcment notice in 2011 and the planning inspectorate recently backed its stance that the land has been changed, without permission, from agricultural to residential use.

The council has argued there was never a bridge crossing the ditch and linking the land - but Mr Dunn claims that since the cottages were built 200 years ago, that section of land has been linked with a bridge to his front garden.

The council claims the “curtilage of the property has been extended”.

Thurrock Gazette:

Picturesque - but the council claim the garden is in breach of strict planning rules.

A spokesman said: “In order to regularise the breaches of planning control an enforcement notice was served requiring the land to be returned to fen land.

“Given that the council’s attempts to regularise the breaches via negotiation have failed, it follows that prosecution proceedings ought to be considered.”

Comments (28)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:00am Fri 2 May 14

poortaxpayer says...

This really is a joke isn't it. Thurrock Council rubber stamping thousands of homes on the Green belt and then victimise a couple for tidying up their garden. Your couldn't make it up.
This really is a joke isn't it. Thurrock Council rubber stamping thousands of homes on the Green belt and then victimise a couple for tidying up their garden. Your couldn't make it up. poortaxpayer
  • Score: 36

10:09am Fri 2 May 14

OckendonPaul says...

They should have a couple of old cars and a rusty sofa on there, the council seem fine with that...
They should have a couple of old cars and a rusty sofa on there, the council seem fine with that... OckendonPaul
  • Score: 32

10:38am Fri 2 May 14

jb411 says...

How would they get across the ditch without a bridge? Hopefully he's got photographs of the old bridge to prove it was there. Some nosey neighbour with nothing better to do call the council I expect. Would have understood if they were parking a load of old batter stock cars on their front garden making it look like a scrap yard, I suppose that would have been ok.
How would they get across the ditch without a bridge? Hopefully he's got photographs of the old bridge to prove it was there. Some nosey neighbour with nothing better to do call the council I expect. Would have understood if they were parking a load of old batter stock cars on their front garden making it look like a scrap yard, I suppose that would have been ok. jb411
  • Score: 27

1:06pm Fri 2 May 14

The Stinker Returns says...

Surely you can do what you like (within reason) in your own garden - including improving it? It's not like he's put up a massive tree house overlooking the neighbours. I would like to know who complained and their reason for doing so. As said above, have kennels with barking dogs and scrap cars lying around and you're fine.
Surely you can do what you like (within reason) in your own garden - including improving it? It's not like he's put up a massive tree house overlooking the neighbours. I would like to know who complained and their reason for doing so. As said above, have kennels with barking dogs and scrap cars lying around and you're fine. The Stinker Returns
  • Score: 16

2:34pm Fri 2 May 14

Indred Cold says...

Complete and utter **** this so called council should be locked in thier building and it set alight
Decent people doing decent things leave them alone you thieving parasites
as many have aready stated stick old fridge in your front garden or fill it with rancid sh*t and its fine by the tossers who run thurrock
do something to enhance the area and its wrong.
The only thing that would enhance this council is a nuclear blast
Complete and utter **** this so called council should be locked in thier building and it set alight Decent people doing decent things leave them alone you thieving parasites as many have aready stated stick old fridge in your front garden or fill it with rancid sh*t and its fine by the tossers who run thurrock do something to enhance the area and its wrong. The only thing that would enhance this council is a nuclear blast Indred Cold
  • Score: 16

1:29pm Sat 3 May 14

MR.SMITH says...

who did complain? and why?
who did complain? and why? MR.SMITH
  • Score: 8

1:38pm Sat 3 May 14

MR.SMITH says...

Mmmm It's obvious by the pictures that someone has deliberately grassed up their garden.
Mmmm It's obvious by the pictures that someone has deliberately grassed up their garden. MR.SMITH
  • Score: 9

6:48pm Sat 3 May 14

d_2da_ougle says...

i see that points and agree the council re concreting over your green bely however this is about land use somwone above refered to it as there garden when it was not, it was a pacel of land adjacnt to their garden that was purchased and made into a extension of there garden however in doing so has changed the land use of the said parcel of land from argiculture use to residential use they have not applied for shange of use for the land so the council have every right legally to ask them to restore it to fen land, whilst it does seem silly i agree the eyes of the law wil say different sorry but thats fact its such a shame they dont go full hilt at pikeys a bit quickeri believe theres some down tilbury at present
i see that points and agree the council re concreting over your green bely however this is about land use somwone above refered to it as there garden when it was not, it was a pacel of land adjacnt to their garden that was purchased and made into a extension of there garden however in doing so has changed the land use of the said parcel of land from argiculture use to residential use they have not applied for shange of use for the land so the council have every right legally to ask them to restore it to fen land, whilst it does seem silly i agree the eyes of the law wil say different sorry but thats fact its such a shame they dont go full hilt at pikeys a bit quickeri believe theres some down tilbury at present d_2da_ougle
  • Score: 3

10:37am Tue 6 May 14

OckendonPaul says...

As dougle seems to be implying above, hiding behind rulebooks, picking on the easy target and only policing those who consent to be policed seems to be the way of ALL councils and the police today...
As dougle seems to be implying above, hiding behind rulebooks, picking on the easy target and only policing those who consent to be policed seems to be the way of ALL councils and the police today... OckendonPaul
  • Score: 7

8:46pm Tue 6 May 14

gr1212 says...

I think d_2da_ougle is right - this was fen land brought from a farmer that has now been urbanised - it was not their "front garden" - you can see that behind the man in the picture.

Also if you search out the appeal on the planning portal website, it is clear that there were a number of other issues (car parking, lighting pillars, a high fence) , all reviewed by an independent inspector who agreed with the council, who were trying to protect the green belt...

Not complying with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence - hence I assume them "being treated like criminals". My sympathy is with the council for having to deal with people that don't obey the same rules as the rest of us have to.
I think d_2da_ougle is right - this was fen land brought from a farmer that has now been urbanised - it was not their "front garden" - you can see that behind the man in the picture. Also if you search out the appeal on the planning portal website, it is clear that there were a number of other issues (car parking, lighting pillars, a high fence) , all reviewed by an independent inspector who agreed with the council, who were trying to protect the green belt... Not complying with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence - hence I assume them "being treated like criminals". My sympathy is with the council for having to deal with people that don't obey the same rules as the rest of us have to. gr1212
  • Score: -4

10:00am Wed 7 May 14

OckendonPaul says...

Read gr1212's comment about the council 'trying to protect the green belt'.
I've only just stopped laughing - that's a good one!
Read gr1212's comment about the council 'trying to protect the green belt'. I've only just stopped laughing - that's a good one! OckendonPaul
  • Score: 2

10:46am Wed 7 May 14

d_2da_ougle says...

oh yeah the blokes done worng i grant him that but whats goood for the goose is good for the gander its easy to go after a white old man when the council are runing our own green belt and also letting gypos get away with murder
oh yeah the blokes done worng i grant him that but whats goood for the goose is good for the gander its easy to go after a white old man when the council are runing our own green belt and also letting gypos get away with murder d_2da_ougle
  • Score: 2

12:42pm Wed 7 May 14

tow_15 says...

If the blokes owned and used it as a garden for 20 years and a bridge has been there for 200 years what 's the Counci's problem. You cant stop someone using their front door .its a joke
gr.12.12 seems to know a lot about it. maybe he's the one who complained.
As usual the council picking on soft targets.
If the blokes owned and used it as a garden for 20 years and a bridge has been there for 200 years what 's the Counci's problem. You cant stop someone using their front door .its a joke gr.12.12 seems to know a lot about it. maybe he's the one who complained. As usual the council picking on soft targets. tow_15
  • Score: 3

12:50pm Wed 7 May 14

MR.SMITH says...

COUNCIL rejected a plan for five pitches for Gypsies and Travellers on land to the rear of Malvern Road in Grays. ARE THEY STILL THERE??
COUNCIL rejected a plan for five pitches for Gypsies and Travellers on land to the rear of Malvern Road in Grays. ARE THEY STILL THERE?? MR.SMITH
  • Score: 2

12:53pm Wed 7 May 14

MR.SMITH says...

gr1212 wrote:
I think d_2da_ougle is right - this was fen land brought from a farmer that has now been urbanised - it was not their "front garden" - you can see that behind the man in the picture.

Also if you search out the appeal on the planning portal website, it is clear that there were a number of other issues (car parking, lighting pillars, a high fence) , all reviewed by an independent inspector who agreed with the council, who were trying to protect the green belt...

Not complying with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence - hence I assume them "being treated like criminals". My sympathy is with the council for having to deal with people that don't obey the same rules as the rest of us have to.
They should have got councilor Joy Redsell to sort it. She would have BENT over backwards to help with planning they could have discussed it in a restaurant somewhere and saved all the red tape.
[quote][p][bold]gr1212[/bold] wrote: I think d_2da_ougle is right - this was fen land brought from a farmer that has now been urbanised - it was not their "front garden" - you can see that behind the man in the picture. Also if you search out the appeal on the planning portal website, it is clear that there were a number of other issues (car parking, lighting pillars, a high fence) , all reviewed by an independent inspector who agreed with the council, who were trying to protect the green belt... Not complying with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence - hence I assume them "being treated like criminals". My sympathy is with the council for having to deal with people that don't obey the same rules as the rest of us have to.[/p][/quote]They should have got councilor Joy Redsell to sort it. She would have BENT over backwards to help with planning they could have discussed it in a restaurant somewhere and saved all the red tape. MR.SMITH
  • Score: 0

2:11pm Wed 7 May 14

stevie### says...

I think that this garden is superb and a vast improvement. What possible objection could anyone have to this well planned and tasteful project ? Might the complainants be motivated by jealousy I ask ?
I think that this garden is superb and a vast improvement. What possible objection could anyone have to this well planned and tasteful project ? Might the complainants be motivated by jealousy I ask ? stevie###
  • Score: 3

2:28pm Wed 7 May 14

essexbird123 says...

I find the rage against the council interesting regardless or not whether the garden is a master piece or a dump. Does this mean you are all in favour of residents buying a piece of farmland or green adjacent to their house and then turning it into a residential garden connected to the house? Would make a nice and cheap way of expanding your property size. Especially if planning laws relax on building houses on residential gardens in the future.

I think i have myself a cunning plan...

Of course opinions above seem for or against converting farmland to garden to be depending on who you are / what background you have?
I find the rage against the council interesting regardless or not whether the garden is a master piece or a dump. Does this mean you are all in favour of residents buying a piece of farmland or green adjacent to their house and then turning it into a residential garden connected to the house? Would make a nice and cheap way of expanding your property size. Especially if planning laws relax on building houses on residential gardens in the future. I think i have myself a cunning plan... Of course opinions above seem for or against converting farmland to garden to be depending on who you are / what background you have? essexbird123
  • Score: -3

2:37pm Wed 7 May 14

tow_15 says...

essexbird123 seems to miss the point. The man has used the garden for 20 years and a bridge has been there for 200 years.
essexbird123 seems to miss the point. The man has used the garden for 20 years and a bridge has been there for 200 years. tow_15
  • Score: 3

2:52pm Wed 7 May 14

essexbird123 says...

No - not missing the point, i'll just wait with turning the adjoining piece of land into an official garden for however many years it takes if time is the only issue not to need planning permission to convert non-residential land into in effect residential land. (and use it as a garden in the meanwhile)
No - not missing the point, i'll just wait with turning the adjoining piece of land into an official garden for however many years it takes if time is the only issue not to need planning permission to convert non-residential land into in effect residential land. (and use it as a garden in the meanwhile) essexbird123
  • Score: -3

3:36pm Wed 7 May 14

gr1212 says...

tow_15 wrote:
essexbird123 seems to miss the point. The man has used the garden for 20 years and a bridge has been there for 200 years.
I think you may be missing the point - the man has not used the garden for 20 years, it says that he has owned it for 20 years. They turned it into a garden three years ago and it wasn't just a garden, it was a high fence and car parking as well.

If you read the appeal report it seems that the owners haven't helped their cause. I quote:

"The Council’s investigations began in 2011 and the Appellants were aware that the Council considered there had been a breach of planning control. They were invited to submit an application for the change of use or an application for a lawful development certificate but they chose not to do so. Nor did they reduce the height of the fence despite assurances they would do so."

I have some sympathy regarding the bridge
[quote][p][bold]tow_15[/bold] wrote: essexbird123 seems to miss the point. The man has used the garden for 20 years and a bridge has been there for 200 years.[/p][/quote]I think you may be missing the point - the man has not used the garden for 20 years, it says that he has owned it for 20 years. They turned it into a garden three years ago and it wasn't just a garden, it was a high fence and car parking as well. If you read the appeal report it seems that the owners haven't helped their cause. I quote: "The Council’s investigations began in 2011 and the Appellants were aware that the Council considered there had been a breach of planning control. They were invited to submit an application for the change of use or an application for a lawful development certificate but they chose not to do so. Nor did they reduce the height of the fence despite assurances they would do so." I have some sympathy regarding the bridge gr1212
  • Score: -2

7:10pm Wed 7 May 14

son_123 says...

After reading this article in the paper I struggle to come to terms of what Thurrock council are achieving by harassing two senior citizens over a garden they so care about. They should of built a 10 story apartment block there instead and and housed asylum seekers.... Council would of probably said o.k to that!.... Poor people.
After reading this article in the paper I struggle to come to terms of what Thurrock council are achieving by harassing two senior citizens over a garden they so care about. They should of built a 10 story apartment block there instead and and housed asylum seekers.... Council would of probably said o.k to that!.... Poor people. son_123
  • Score: 2

9:00pm Wed 7 May 14

Saravinnie says...

Yet again the council shock everyone their David versus Goliath approach. I'm well aware of this property and it's surroundings having grown up in the area. I can categorically confirm that there WAS a bridge in front of the house in 1978 well before Mr and Mrs Dunn moved in having crossed it several times to visit my friend. Without the bridge the front door cannot be accessed., and during wet spells the ditch is a flowing river! As for the garden, the couple have maintained this garden as long as I can remember having modified it from an old bit of scruffy scrubland to this stunning garden you see today. Bulphan in bloom must be very proud of their efforts. It is perfectly obvious to me that certain individuals who have nothing better to do with their time, feel the need to victimise others and ruin their dreams, especially if they have a "friend in the planning department". Thurrock Council you surely must have something better to do with your time, perhaps a certain river crossing issue!!! In the meantime I will be speaking to my Lawyer friend at the European court of Human rights, I'm sure he will be very interested to hear about the mandatory bridge removal!!
Yet again the council shock everyone their David versus Goliath approach. I'm well aware of this property and it's surroundings having grown up in the area. I can categorically confirm that there WAS a bridge in front of the house in 1978 well before Mr and Mrs Dunn moved in having crossed it several times to visit my friend. Without the bridge the front door cannot be accessed., and during wet spells the ditch is a flowing river! As for the garden, the couple have maintained this garden as long as I can remember having modified it from an old bit of scruffy scrubland to this stunning garden you see today. Bulphan in bloom must be very proud of their efforts. It is perfectly obvious to me that certain individuals who have nothing better to do with their time, feel the need to victimise others and ruin their dreams, especially if they have a "friend in the planning department". Thurrock Council you surely must have something better to do with your time, perhaps a certain river crossing issue!!! In the meantime I will be speaking to my Lawyer friend at the European court of Human rights, I'm sure he will be very interested to hear about the mandatory bridge removal!! Saravinnie
  • Score: 2

9:01pm Wed 7 May 14

Saravinnie says...

MR.SMITH wrote:
who did complain? and why?
Jealous neighbours, with nothing better to do I suspect.
[quote][p][bold]MR.SMITH[/bold] wrote: who did complain? and why?[/p][/quote]Jealous neighbours, with nothing better to do I suspect. Saravinnie
  • Score: 1

11:36pm Wed 7 May 14

d_2da_ougle says...

savinne are you saying that even know the land was not theres that their only access was across a old bridge so if they did not have right of way that property would of been biggered for enetry is that what your saying as it appears so
savinne are you saying that even know the land was not theres that their only access was across a old bridge so if they did not have right of way that property would of been biggered for enetry is that what your saying as it appears so d_2da_ougle
  • Score: 0

3:20am Thu 8 May 14

son_123 says...

d_2da_ougle needs to take an English course..... maybe she is one of those asylum seekers!
d_2da_ougle needs to take an English course..... maybe she is one of those asylum seekers! son_123
  • Score: 2

8:47am Thu 8 May 14

MR.SMITH says...

son_123 wrote:
d_2da_ougle needs to take an English course..... maybe she is one of those asylum seekers!
11.36 pm glug glug slur hic%!#**%* shay it gen
[quote][p][bold]son_123[/bold] wrote: d_2da_ougle needs to take an English course..... maybe she is one of those asylum seekers![/p][/quote]11.36 pm glug glug slur hic%!#**%* shay it gen MR.SMITH
  • Score: 1

9:06am Thu 8 May 14

d_2da_ougle says...

haha **** or not english course whatever savinne states that hey catagroicaly remember this parcel of land having a bridge on the site for 200 years yet the parcel of land was obvisouly before this man got its hands on it in the hands of another person so how else was the house accessed, surely that creats right of way issues i just refuse to believe this is the case people battle in court over stuff like land access
haha **** or not english course whatever savinne states that hey catagroicaly remember this parcel of land having a bridge on the site for 200 years yet the parcel of land was obvisouly before this man got its hands on it in the hands of another person so how else was the house accessed, surely that creats right of way issues i just refuse to believe this is the case people battle in court over stuff like land access d_2da_ougle
  • Score: 0

8:05am Fri 9 May 14

Thurrockbob says...

essexbird123 wrote:
I find the rage against the council interesting regardless or not whether the garden is a master piece or a dump. Does this mean you are all in favour of residents buying a piece of farmland or green adjacent to their house and then turning it into a residential garden connected to the house? Would make a nice and cheap way of expanding your property size. Especially if planning laws relax on building houses on residential gardens in the future.

I think i have myself a cunning plan...

Of course opinions above seem for or against converting farmland to garden to be depending on who you are / what background you have?
Dear essexbird, you might want to go back to just trowelling your make-up on, getting your lips enhanced and getting down the tanning shop so you can top up your oompa lumpa look. Have a nice day now.
[quote][p][bold]essexbird123[/bold] wrote: I find the rage against the council interesting regardless or not whether the garden is a master piece or a dump. Does this mean you are all in favour of residents buying a piece of farmland or green adjacent to their house and then turning it into a residential garden connected to the house? Would make a nice and cheap way of expanding your property size. Especially if planning laws relax on building houses on residential gardens in the future. I think i have myself a cunning plan... Of course opinions above seem for or against converting farmland to garden to be depending on who you are / what background you have?[/p][/quote]Dear essexbird, you might want to go back to just trowelling your make-up on, getting your lips enhanced and getting down the tanning shop so you can top up your oompa lumpa look. Have a nice day now. Thurrockbob
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree