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Couple’s four-year hell over as council orders neighbours to remove fence

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Andrew William Fields and partner Anja are delighted to have won their case against neighbours Mr Michael Blackmore and his partner Sandra Ann Blackmore after arguing the fence obstructed a right of way on their rural road near Tiverton, Devon.

Mr Fields and his partner, who own a farm, had been in dispute with their neighbours for nearly four years, since Mr Fields applied for planning permission to convert part of his home into an office.

Mr Blackmore argued, in 2018, car lights would shine directly into his bedroom from the car park, complained the size of the property was “too large” and questioned how the “existing amenity and privacy can be protected”.

He also claimed a local beekeeping group would use a “shipping container” on the site which had been used to store chemicals.

And the row was exacerbate in 2020 when Mr Blackmore erected the fence outside his property, which Mr Fields’s agent said was “placed deliberately and maliciously to block a well-established access on my client’s property, intended solely to create a dangerous hazard at the entrance to Bradford Farm”.

The local authority finally concluded last month the fence needed to be removed, reports Devon Live.

Mid Devon District Council’s (MDDC), which has had no overall political control since the Lib Dems lost it in 1999, said Mr Blackmore had “no real prospect” of successfully defending either the nuisance or breach of covenant claim and ordered him to pay Mr Fields £10,000.

Speaking since the ruling, Mr Fields said: “In 2020 all planning permissions were immediately granted at government level.

“It was concluded in the hearing that this should have been the conclusion in the first instance from MDDC, however it cost me £25,000 in unnecessary costs and hours of wasted council time to get to this conclusion.

“All Anja and I are doing is simply getting on with our lives, turning our smallholding into a nature reserve.”

Speaking about the lengthy dispute with his neighbour, Mr Fields said: “Mr Blackmore has complained that I host the Mid Devon Bees beekeeping club and requested that the beehives were removed; they weren’t.

“He complained that last year I dug a lake that was given a government grant and approved by the Environment Agency and the Devon Wildlife Trust.

“He complained when we dug our front garden as we got a digger in to move the earth as it needed to be levelled out. I would like to point out that we are a registered farm and allowed to dig in our garden.”

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