Homeowner says neighbour's fence makes her feel 'like she lives in prison'

Sharon Boltwood, 59, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, is in 'complete disbelief' over her neighbour's fence and says it 'affects her deeply'.

Generally, neighbours do not need planning permission if their fence is 2 metres tall or less. (Reach)

A woman from Huddersfield has been reduced to tears after her next-door neighbour erected a huge fence which she says makes her feel like she's in prison.

Sharon Boltwood and her husband John, who have lived on the Walpole estate for more than 40 years, are in "complete disbelief" at the height of the fence, which they say stops them seeing out of their front window.

"I just couldn't believe my eyes," said Boltwood, whose neighbour said she put up the fence because she was worried about her two-year-old son running out onto the road.

"I suffer from depression, and I have got no friends and rarely go out apart from shopping trips so not being able to see out of our front window as we used to be able to do affects me deeply," said Boltwood, 59.

The situation has caused so much frustration, that Boltwood's 65-year-old husband, a retired builder, daren't speak to the neighbour in cases he "loses his head".

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Sharon and John Boltwood in dispute over neighbour's 'prison-like' fence (REACH)
Sharon and John Boltwood say their neighbour's new fence makes them feel like they are in Armley prison. (Reach)

The couple, who've been at their current home for 25 years, were due to Kirklees Council on Tuesday morning to see what their options are and to ask if the neighbour have broken any planning regulations.

Comparing their situation to living in Armley prison, Boltwood said: "It's a shame because we used to be good neighbours and we've never had any problem with her and her mother before. She was very kind and brought us around some chicken that they had cooked, that sort of thing."

The 43-year-old neighbour who asked not to be named owns the property with her mother, was also tearful as she was asked about the dispute.

Boltwood, 59, has been reduced to tears over her dispute with her neighbours. (Reach)

"As far I was concerned everything was OK. We are good neighbours to them and the fact that they have complained in this way is really upsetting. We checked with the people who installed it and that it was OK.

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"It's strange because in the past they have had horses and chickens at the back which created a problem with rats but we never complained to them about it. We have been really, really good neighbours to them.

"I would just like to add that we had many quotes for the fence, so it wouldn't have been a shock that a fence was getting put up. Both neighbours were told on each side, and neither asked about the height."

The homeowner added: "Their fence around the back is higher than ours. No complaint was made by us."

She said the contractor she hired to put up the fence looked on Kirklees Council's website to double check local constraints on the property and conditions for planning permission.

Can my neighbour put up a fence without my permission?

In many cases, a landowner cannot protect their view from a property unless they can rely on a specific covenant (condition tied to the use of land) to protect it, according to Samuels Solicitors.

Homeowners have what is known as permitted development rights, which allow them to carry out small-scale works on their property without needing planning permission.

This includes erecting fences and walls, provided they are no taller than two metres. So, if your neighbours' fence is within this range, it is unlikely that you can challenge them based on planning law.

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However, you may be able to make a case based on your "right to light", a legal easement in England and Wales that gives homeowners the right to receive light through their windows - after all, that's what they're for.

This right applies to all properties that have received natural daylight for more than 20 years, according to insurance brokers Marsh Commercial. Those in breach risk court orders or injunctions delaying or halting their development, of having to pay large sums in compensation.

It might be a lot less stressful for all involved and less costly if you can settle the matter amicably with your neighbour, and you could hire a solicitor to guide you and help keep negotiations on track.