Hedges, fences, walls -
an Inspector calls
One of the most attractive and distinctive features of Wavertree Garden Suburb is the almost unbroken series of front-garden hedges. The absence of walls and fences was a deliberate decision of the estate's designers 90 years ago, and has always been a 'selling-point' for houses in the Conservation Area. Unfortunately a few of the original privet and beech hedges have been destroyed over the years, but the City Council's policy is (officially at least) to encourage the restoration of those along the more prominent frontages. In June 2001 an Enforcement Notice was served on the owners of 133 Thingwall Road, ordering the removal of the wall/fence, brick piers and wrought-iron gates which had been erected along the Wavertree Nook Road boundary. The owners appealed against this Notice, and as a result a government planning inspector visited the site and has now reported. We feel that some of his comments deserve wider publicity:
"The design of these structures … [is] quite at odds with the form, materials and design of boundary features … in the original garden suburb. I consider that their incongruity as visual features is exacerbated by the consistency with which original materials and designs are applied elsewhere". Even though a wooden fence had previously existed here (erected many years ago without planning permission, supposedly on a 'temporary' basis) "the materials now used and the detailed forms with large brick columns and arched head structures are eye catching and likely to be significantly more damaging to the character and appearance of the designated area than what they replaced".
The Inspector concluded that the new structures must all be removed, but that - because a wooden fence had previously existed - they could be replaced by a dark stained close-boarded fence plus wooden gates of a simple design. The implication of the decision letter is that planning inspectors will NOT accept the introduction of fences into the Garden Suburb, on frontages where hedging currently exists. We hope that the City Council will, as a result of this appeal decision, be encouraged to publicise its Conservation Area policies more effectively - and enforce them more promptly - in future.