A couple embroiled in a heated seven-year battle with their neighbours over a six foot fence have branded them ‘bullies’.
Garry Hambling, 48, and his wife Kerry, 44, are suing their ‘monstrous’ millionaire neighbours in the High Court in a bid to tear town the fence running through two parcels of their £600,000 Sussex home.
They told MailOnline the fence – which was erected by Garry and Jenny Wakerly in 2017 – forced them to walk along the dangerous 60mp/h A1071 Hadleigh Road in order to access their field.
So far, the battle has cost them £160,000. This figure does not include the estimated £100,000 that the fence has wiped off the value of their home.
‘They’re bullies. They are neighbours from hell,’ Mr Hambling said.
‘When the fence was first put up the kids (who are now 16, 18 and 20) were young and were having to walk along the 60mph road. The house is unsellable with the current situation.’
The Hamblings, who live in Garden Cottage (hightlighted yellow, left) allege their millionaire neighbours the Wakerlys, who live in Tills Farm Cottage (highlighted red, right) erected a 6ft fence which stops them from using their front door to access the Hamblings’ field (highlighted yellow, right)
The couple allege the fence blocks access from their stables to the field, cuts off sprawling views previously enjoyed from their living room and makes the ground floor of their house dark.
Following years of back-and-forth bickering, the pair took the issue to the Norwich County Court, Norfolk, which they lost and which cost them £100,000.
They have appealed to the High Court against that decision – costing them an additional £60,000 – and are now awaiting judgment.
The Wakerlys allege the Hamblings have been using the door to unlawfully ‘trespass’ on their driveway whilst going between their cottage and the field, claiming they put up the fence to stop them.
Mr Hambling said: ‘We’re the fourth family to own this house in 20 years and we should have taken that as a red flag but we didn’t. There’s a reason so many people have sold.
‘We have used the drive just as every other family have used it.’
Judge Sir Anthony Mann heard that the ‘unfortunate’ neighbours’ squabble started in 2016, about a year after the Hamblings had moved into Garden Cottage.
The Wakerleys claim they built the fence to stop their neighbours from walking over their driveway (pictured) to access the field (right) which is owned by the Hamblings
The Hamblings bought their beloved Polstead home in 2015. The four-bedroom chocolate box home included a quarter of an acre of gardens, its own stable block and a two-acre field just yards away, across a drive owned by the Wakerlys.
But ‘friction’ arose between the families after the Wakerlys – whose £1million Tills Farm Cottage lies on the same former farm as the Hamblings’ – grew upset by the plans their neighbours had to make changes to their rural property.
They were particularly frustrated when the Hamblings turned part of their field, which had been used by the previous owners of Garden Cottage to exercise horses, into a ‘car park’ for ‘vans and trucks’.
Gary and Kerry Hambling (pictured outside London’s High Court) claim the fence put up by neighbours Garry and Jenny Wakerly has wiped £100,000 off the value of their Suffolk house
The Wakerlys responded by telling the couple they were no longer permitted to cross over the driveway – which lies between the Hamblings’ front door and their field – to access the field from their house.
The Hamblings inherited a right of way to access their field up their neighbours’ track from the main road when they bought the property, the court heard.
They were forbidden from getting to the cottage the same way under the right of way, but had been permitted to cross the track by their neighbours whilst relations were still friendly.
But in June 2017 after a frosty exchange of lawyers’ letters – during which the Hamblings were accused by their neighbours of ‘trespassing’ on the drive – the Wakerlys had contractors put up a 1.8metre-high close-boarded wooden fence with concrete posts and gravel boards along the edge of their drive and down one side of their neighbours’ front garden.
It is alleged the fence effectively boxed the Hamblings in, leaving them forced to access their field via the driveway on the other side of their property and then along the 60mph main road.
The legal row now centres on the wording of the right of way, granted to the then-owners of the property in 2001 and stating that the Wakerlys’ driveway could be used ‘for access to the field not to Garden Cottage’.
The case has already hit court once with Judge Karen Walden-Smith at Norwich County Court ruling in favour of the Wakerlys and allowing the fence blocking off Garden Cottage from the track and the field to remain.
Giving her judgement in September 2021, she described the row as a ‘highly unfortunate case where owners of two country properties have not been able to find a way in which they can co-exist without friction’.
A couple are at war with their ‘monstrous’ millionaire neighbours who they claim boxed in their £600,000 dream home with a six-foot fence that allegedly prevents them from using their front door
Relations between the neighbours had deteriorated after the Hamblings, who own a utilities installation company, obtained planning permission to extend Garden Cottage and create a new driveway from the highway onto the field, part of which is now being used for the parking of vans and trucks.
‘The complaint is that the fence blocks off the opening to the stables, effectively stops them from having access to and from – what they consider to be – the front door to Garden Cottage and interrupts their views and the natural light into the property.
‘The behaviour of Mr and Mrs Wakerly has been described by counsel to Mr and Mrs Hambling as being ‘monstrous conduct’. It was deliberately and unpleasantly antagonistic. It must have been intended to intimidate.’
Finding for the Wakerlys, she said they were entitled to put up the fence because the right of way up the track was only for the use of the field, while Garden Cottage had its own access on the other side of the property.
‘The express right of way in this matter is clear,’ she said. ‘Not only is it for the benefit of the field, but it is expressly said not to be for the benefit of Garden Cottage.’
Challenging that finding in the High Court, Dermot Woolgar, for Mr and Mrs Hambling, said the judge in the county court had misinterpreted the wording of the right of way.
He argued that the Hamblings had the right to use the front door of their cottage from the track if they had travelled up it from the road to their field first, or were going to the cottage for reasons connected to activities being carried on in the field.
‘The effect of the fence has been to make the front door to the cottage redundant, and to make it impossible to go from the stables through the gate, across the track, and into the field,’ he said.
‘The issue is whether the transfer permits that right of way to be exercised only to and from the highway… or whether it also permits that right of way to be exercised to and from Garden Cottage.
‘Even if it does not, Mr and Mrs Hambling contend that the right of way enables them to make use of it to go to and from Garden Cottage for purposes which are ancillary to their use of the field.
‘The right of way was not happily drafted. Given its textual weaknesses, and having regard to the geographical and practical realities, its meaning is not as straightforward as the judge found.
‘Perhaps above all else, it is a stretch too far to suppose that the objective intention of the parties to the transfer was to render the front door to the cottage redundant forever after.
What are the rules for building a fence?
Planning permission is required for building fences if:
The fence is next to a highway and taller than 3ft 3in (1m)
The fence is taller than 6ft 6in (2m)
The site is part of a listed building
Source: Planning Portal
‘No one would sensibly suppose that the seller would have wanted to render the front door to the cottage forever useless, and to compel the occupiers to use the back door forever after.
‘All of these activities are obviously reasonable. If they were not to be permitted, the transfer needed to say so in clear words. It did not.’
But Charles Irvine, for the Wakerlys, asked the judge to throw out their neighbours’ case and let the fence stand as it is.
‘The transfer wording is clear that the track should only be used ‘for access to the field not to Garden Cottage’, i.e. for access to and from the field and not to and from the cottage,’ he said.
‘Contrary to Mr and Mrs Hamblings’ case, its meaning is as straightforward as the judge found.
‘There is an express prohibition to, at any point, be on the track to access to or egress from the cottage.
‘There are no purposes which are ancillary to the use of the field, such that the right of way permitted access between the track and the cottage.
‘The appellants argue that using the track to take horses from the field to the cottage and back would be permissible as it involved accessing the cottage for a purpose ancillary to the use of the field; and as an example, a tack room to store saddles in the cottage would be a purpose ancillary to the use of the field.
‘A car park is situated on the field, leaving little room to ride horses and the appellants have never used the field for horses.’
The judge reserved his ruling on the case at the end of a day-long hearing and will give his decision at a later date.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk