Couple’s house value fears as 3.5m high fence to be built behind garden

Brian and Paula Darling, right with their neighbour Ian Ledger by the post they erected to illustrate the height of the proposed fence. Picture: Kate Shemilt
Brian and Paula Darling, right with their neighbour Ian Ledger by the post they erected to illustrate the height of the proposed fence. Picture: Kate Shemilt

When Brian and Paula Darling first viewed their bungalow in Amberley Close, Wick, what sealed the deal were the views from their back garden.

But now, they claim they will lose thousands of pounds from the value of their home after developers changed the boundary of a new link road behind their property without their input.

Paula, 63, said she was ‘horrified’ by the news: “They should have come around and at least put a letter through the door of the people it is going to affect.”

The link road will connect Fitzalan Road and Worthing Road as part of the North Littlehampton housing development.

The couple moved into their bungalow from St Leonards in East Sussex in 2010. Two years ago, the couple were told by the developers, Persimmon Homes, that an acoustic fence around the road would be two metres from their property, and 2.5 metres high.

But last week, they discovered it would now be one metre away from their land and 3.5m high.

Brian, 69, felt it could make their property unsellable. In 2015, after the link road was announced, a quotation showed the property was worth £11,000 less. He said: “We worry we could lose a lot more now. The higher the fence, the less likely it is that anyone is going to buy it.”

They were also concerned the fence could block out sunlight in their garden. A maintenance footpath will be built between their garden and the fence – but Brian and Paula feared it could attract anti-social behaviour and drug dealing. “You just don’t know what they could hide down there,” Brian said.

Martin Edgley, technical director for Persimmon Homes Thames Valley said: “We are currently in discussions with West Sussex County Council and have raised our concerns that a 3.5m high acoustic fence is unacceptable and unnecessary.

“A full technical audit of the entire link road scheme is now being undertaken, part of which will look at a number of other design options for acoustic screening in order to reach a solution that is less imposing.

“Details of the scheme, including screening, have yet to be approved by the council and won’t be until the relevant technical vetting has been undertaken.”

An Arun District Council spokesman said: “When the planning application (LU/234/16/RES) for the Fitzalan Link Road was submitted to Arun District Council in 2016, the applicant (Persimmon Homes) confirmed with Environmental Health that the acoustic barrier would be 3.5 metres high at all locations, not 2.5 metres high. The submitted plans have always shown the acoustic barrier at one metre away from neighbouring houses.

“Noise modelling was undertaken by the applicant’s noise consultant for the whole of the length of the Fitzalan Link Road. The noise report submitted by the applicant to accompany the planning application for Fitzalan Link Road showed that the noise mitigation would bring the noise to acceptable levels. Some outdoor living areas would be exposed to high levels of ambient noise in excess of guidelines and the noise level at some sensitive receptors would have significant adverse effects.

“It was considered by the Development Control Committee at Arun District Council that the erection and retention of a 3.5 metre high acoustic barrier alongside the Link Road, backing onto the rear gardens of residential properties would have a visual impact upon the amenity of local residents, but this needed to be measured against the noise emissions from the vehicles travelling along the Link Road.

“It was considered that the higher the acoustic barrier was, the lower the noise emissions and the lower the acoustic barrier was, the higher the noise emissions would be. On balance, it was considered that the visual impact of a 3.5 metre high acoustic barrier was acceptable when measured against the noise levels emitted by vehicles on the Fitzalan Link Road.

“The Council consulted the public on this application through putting up site notices, in line with normal practice. Records show that a site notice was placed to the south of Amberley Close, by the

junction with Madehurst Way, in addition to other notices in the area.”