DISABLED homeowner Anthony Langford fears he could be forced to rip up £6,000 worth of garden decking he built to aid his mobility.
The 63-year-old, who has hereditary spastic paraplegia, had builders install a wooden structure in 2017 permitting him easy, level access between his house and back garden using his mobility scooter.
But after a neighbour complained about the height of the decking – for which Mr Langford did not initially apply for planning permission – Portsmouth City Council (PCC) deemed the structure an ‘unneighbourly’ breach of privacy, meaning it would have to be made smaller to comply with regulations.
Mr Langford submitted an appeal against the decision, which will be answered when he is visited by an independent officer from the government’s planning inspectorate in the new year.
Mr Langford, who lives in Highbury Grove in Cosham with his wife Zafirula, said: ‘This all began when we were visited by the council some time ago.
‘An occupational therapist wasn’t happy I was using steps to get down to the garden, so they suggested I install something permanent to make it easier.
‘The council recommended a concrete structure, but I didn’t want that because it’s not particularly attractive and if I’m going to be spending money I want it to look nice at least.
‘In the end, I just said I would put up my own wooden decking – it looks superb. But nobody told me I would need planning permission.’
As a visit from a planning inspector on January 15, 2018 looms, Mr Langford says having to alter the structure would be a real blow, clapping back at claims he is intruding on his neighbours’ privacy.
He said: ‘It would be extremely inconvenient. I would have to pay another £2,000-£3,000 to have the decking decreased in size, then I would have to put in steps of some kind just to get down to the garden again.
‘Because of my condition, I can’t lift up my feet and I have to drag them across the floor – this decking has been a godsend for that.
‘I can get my scooter in and out of the house in about three minutes, whereas it used to take me a quarter of an hour to get up the concrete steps that were there before.
‘If I wanted to look into my neighbour’s garden, I could do it from the bedroom or conservatory window. But I have no desire whatsoever to do that.’
In its document of refusal to Mr Langford’s retrospective planning application, PCC said: ‘The raised decking, ramp and steps to the rear garden give rise to an unacceptable and unneighbourly degree of overlooking and resulting loss of privacy. The proposal is therefore contrary to policy.’