Couple win planning battle to remove 20ft-high ‘rollercoaster’ metal racking from timber yard that spoiled view from the garden of their dream £325,000 home in Norfolk

  • Jenny Mason and Stuart Dodd were left angry after the steel racking was built
  • Ms Mason described the structure as a ‘monstrosity’ and a ‘disgusting sight’ 
  • The timber yard was forced to reapply for planning permission but lost its case

A couple who claimed their garden was blighted by a 20ft-high ‘rollercoaster’ from a timber yard have won a battle to get it removed. 

Jenny Mason, 46, and Stuart Dodd, 48, were initially furious after a 118ft long steel racking was constructed without planning permission on the other side of their fence in Roudham, Norfolk. 

Ms Mason described the metal structure as a ‘monstrosity’ and said the ‘disgusting sight’ spoiled the view from their £325,000 semi-detached house. 

The timber yard lost its short reapplication for planning permission after complaints were raised by neighbours and the parish council. 

The mother-of-three said she was ‘over the moon’ with the decision which effectively forces the business to dismantle the racking or face potential enforcement action. 

Jenny Mason Stuart Dodd used to be able to look out on trees and distant fields when they copped their £325,000 semi-detached house in April

Jenny Mason (pictured) was enraged after her garden was blighted with a 20ft ‘rollercoaster’ put up by a Timber yard 

When Ms Mason and Mr Dodd moved into their new home in April they had been able to gaze out on trees and distant fields.

However they were left shocked in July when a  118ft metal racking was built directly behind their back garden. 

The timber yard was forced to apply for retrospective planning permission from the council to keep the racking up for the storage of its products. 

Officers described it as ‘a visually prominent feature which fails to add to the overall quality of the area and would be detrimental to the appearance of the street scene and the character of the area’.

They added: ‘The issues are so fundamental to the proposal that it has not been possible to negotiate a satisfactory solution and due to the harm which has been clearly identified within the reason(s) for the refusal, approval has not been possible’.

A bird’s-eye view of  Ms Mason and Mr Dodd’s detached house and garden next to the timber yard. When Mr Dodd’s saw workers putting up a ‘steel structure’ he went to the council

Ms Mason who works with special needs adults and Mr Dodd said they had hoped to enjoy a peaceful rural life in Roudham after moving from their former home in Slough, Berkshire.

She said: ‘We absolutely loved this house when we bought it. We knew there was a timber yard on the other side of the fence, but it didn’t bother us. It was supposed to be our dream home.

‘We could live with a little bit of noise, having previously been in Slough where we were only a few minutes from Heathrow and had planes flying overhead.’

Landscape architect Mr Dodd said he realised something was being built when he returned from work and heard the sound of a digger.

He looked over his fence to ask contractors what they were doing and was told that they were ‘putting up a steel structure’.

Mr Dodd said he went to the yard to complain and was told by staff that they had planning consent for the work.

But when he checked with Breckland Council, he found that no application had been made.

Jenny with the 118ft long ‘monstrosity’ behind her which was put up on the other side of their fence in Roudham, Norfolk

The metal structure was built 60ft back from their fence without planning consent in the yard of Crendon Timber Engineering

Around a week later, the racking suddenly appeared while the couple were out at work.

Ms Mason said: ‘I suddenly saw this cherry picker and the giant racking when I looked out of my bathroom window

‘They claimed they had to carry on with the work as the contractors had already been paid and it could be difficult to stop halfway.

‘The council made them apply for retrospective planning permission, and has banned them from stacking anything on the racks until after a decision is made.

The council officers refused consent for the ‘disgusting site’ after protests about it were raised by several neighbours as well as the local parish council

‘I went round to the yard and told them, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ We got hold of the planning department and they asked them to stop, but they didn’t.’

But we think that they should be made to tear it down now. It is an eyesore which they have put up without permission with no thought for their neighbours.

‘It has ruined our enjoyment of our garden. Who wants to sit out and look at this monstrosity?

‘It is just disgusting and awful. I don’t see how it can be allowed. It is hideous.

‘The manager of the yard got a bit funny with us, and said that all the neighbours were being very frosty.

‘We know people have got to make a living, and it wouldn’t be so bad if it was a bit lower. But at the moment it is just too damn high..’

The owners of the timber yard will effectively be forced to dismantle the racking or face potential enforcement action

Mr Dodd said they had no hint that the company wanted to build the racking when they carried out searches before buying their Norfolk home.

He added: ‘If it had been up when we looked at the house, we probably would not have bought it.

‘When we moved in, we made the garden nice by bringing in a few chickens and creating a little vegetable plot.

‘Then this racking suddenly appeared three months later. It is stretching across the length of four houses. All the neighbours are angry about it.

‘Nobody had any letters or warning that it was going up. When people come round, the say ‘What the hell is that” 

A letter by Breckland Council which is stapled to a wooden post. Ms Mason said she hoped for a peaceful rural life in Roudham after moving from their former home in Slough, Berkshire

He said he had feared that any plastic wrapped timber products stored on the racks would rustle in high wind, creating a noise nuisance as well as an eyesore.

After the couple won the battle Ms Dodd celebrated with her neighbour ‘Yay, we’ve done it!’

She added: ‘The fact that we’ve sat and looked at it for six weeks, with no planning permission, and now it’s been refused – that’s made us all really angry.

‘We’ve had so much support from the community. We’ve all stuck together and just done everything we can possibly can. The fact that it’s been refused is massive.’

The couple’s student daughter Phoebe, 21, added: ‘This racking has ruined the view from my garden and bedroom.’

Neighbours John and Ameila Raby who both work for the NHS also opposed the racking.

Officers described the timber yard as ‘a visually prominent feature which fails to add to the overall quality of the area and would be detrimental to the appearance of the street scene and the character of the area’

Mr Raby said: ‘We were not informed that anything was going to happen. We think it is an eyesore. It should not have been put so close to neighbours’ houses.

‘If they had put it further away in their yard, it would not have affected anyone. I know they are a local business and create jobs and we support that. It is not about trying to ruin a business. It is about doing the right thing.’

Planning documents submitted to the council by Crendon Timber Engineering described the racking as evidence of the firm’s ‘long term investment’ in their site.

A design and access statement drawn up by agents acting for the firm said the racking would provide ‘much needed additional storage capacity, which is necessary to meet current and future demands, especially with the growing housing market.’

The statement said that racking was ‘likely to have little to no impact on the local area, including residential properties’ even though it was ‘visible from some of the residential properties on Harling Road’.

It added: ‘The proposal should have minimal noise impact, as the area is currently used for storage by the Applicant’

The statement also claimed that the racking would allow the firm ‘to work more efficiently with less vehicle movements and a safer alternative to the current storage’.

The firm’s branch director said he understood local residents’ concerns. He claimed that there had been ‘informal conversations’ with them to see whether the racking’s appearance could be improved.

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