Neighbours at war over 6ft fence that ‘blocked off couple's front door’
Gary and Kerry Hambling say the fence cuts off the views from the house to their field across the drive in Polstead, Suffolk.
A couple say they have spent £160,000 in a bitter, seven-year battle with neighbours who they claim erected a 6ft fence that has blocked their front door.
Gary Hambling, 48, and wife Kerry, 44, called Garry and Jenny Wakerly "the neighbours from hell" after they put up the fence along their private drive which lines the Hamblings' house in Polstead, Suffolk, in 2016.
The row stems from an apparent disagreement that broke out in 2016, the year after the Hamblings bought their 17th-century semi-detached Garden Cottage for £600,000 and moved in with their three children.
The Hamblings say they put in a planning application for an extension to their property and to replace some steps leading from their front door to the drive, which they did in 2016.
They allege the Wakerlys verbally agreed with the plans to replace the steps, which they deny.
The Hamblings also converted part of their field into a car park to stop people from blocking the Wakerlys' private drive when visiting.
During a reported exchange of lawyers' letters in 2017, the Wakerlys accused the Hamblings of using their front door to unlawfully "trespass" on their private drive to go between the cottage and the field. Shortly after, the Wakerlys erected the fence to prevent the Hamblings from using the driveway to cross to the field.
The Hamblings counter that this has prevented them from accessing their field from the front door and that they instead have to use the driveway on the other side of the property. They say they then have to walk along the A1071 Hadleigh Road, that has a speed limit of 60mph.
They also say the fence cuts off the views from the house to their field across the drive, which was bought with the property, and also blocks light from the ground floor.
The Hamblings initially took the issue to the Norwich County Court, Norfolk, which they lost in 2021, in a process they say cost them around £100,000.
According to the Times, the judge 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”.
They have since appealed to the High Court against that decision, which has cost the couple an estimated £60,000, and are awaiting a ruling.
The dispute now centres around the wording of the right of way which was set out when the Garden Cottage property was sold to an earlier buyer in 2001.
The wording says the Wakerlys' drive can be used for "access to the field not to Garden Cottage".
The Hamblings argue this is inaccurate and that the previous buyer Mrs Wade who got the deeds written up spoke in favour of the contract also allowing access to the front door as well, as Mr Hambing explained, "it was obvious".
Mr Hambling has a painting of the cottage dated 1967, showing that the front door of the cottage has always been along the driveway that is now cut off with the fence.
Garry Wakerly, 76, has insisted that his neighbours were trying to make a "no mean yes" after appealing the Norwich County Court decision.
He said: "Don't believe what Gary Hambling says. He's got a magic way of getting into people's minds to make them believe what he wants.
"I've been to court with him, arbitration with him twice, I know what he's like. That's all I'm prepared to say."
Gary Hambling, who runs a building maintenance company with his wife, said of his neighbours: "They're bullies. They are neighbours from hell.
"If we lose the case we'll stay. I don't like being bullied – they're not being reasonable at all.
"It's the worry and emotional stress that's taken its toll.
"The house is unsellable with the current situation. If we lose, at least we've tried."
The High Court is due to give its ruling.