Family's £200 bill after dispute over climbing frame

Published on: 16 Nov 2016

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by Becky Day
When Jenny and Mike Ponter built a climbing frame in their garden, they only envisioned it would provide endless fun for their two daughters.
However, one year later, they were shocked to discover that a complaint had been made by a local resident and that they needed to apply for planning permission.
The Ponters, from Ferndale Road in Filton, had purchased the climbing frame second-hand from eBay in May last year, as a surprise for their daughter’s birthday.
Jenny said: “We received a knock on the door mid-June from someone at the council informing us that they’d received a complaint about the climbing frame.
“We were in total shock as we’d already had it up over a year and hadn’t received any complaints ourselves.
“The last thing we’d want to do is upset any of our neighbours.”
It was highlighted in the complaint to South Glos that the 3.7 metre high frame was causing a loss of privacy to the resident’s bedroom windows, spoiling their outlook and having an overbearing impact.
It was also added that the structure overlooked the Shield Road Primary School playground.
As a result of the complaint, the Ponters agreed to enclose the tower with wooden slats, and also submit a planning application to the council and purchase land registry documents, which cost a total of £200.
Planning permission has now been awarded for the climbing frame and the Ponters say that they are relieved at the decision.
Jenny said: “It’s quite a lot of money to fork out for something that could have been resolved by just having a simple conversation.
“It’s all just been very disappointing and incredibly stressful – and a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.”
The family received at least five visits from South Glos Council – the most recent involving up to 15 council officers and planning committee members.
The planning application was recommended for approval by the officer assigned to the case.
However, concerns were rasied by Filton Town Council for the structure being “too high”.
Lesley Reuben, on behalf of Filton Town Council, said: “The climbing frame is clearly too high. It would be the Town Council’s suggestion that it is bought down to the fence height.”
The original complaint by neighbour Mrs Debra Blake stated: “The structure exceeds the 2.5 metre height restriction for a structure this wide, and it is not 2 metres from the boundary.
“The tower is overbearing, with a very dense visual appearance.
“Although the planning officer identified a loss of privacy and the applicant has filled in the sides of the tower, there is still a loss of privacy from the raised platform/balcony.
“The structure towers above the 6ft fence. When children are playing on the structure, I have also witnessed adults on the structure.
“We sleep in the bedroom at the back of the house and have a loss of privacy.”
A council spokesperson said: “The planning application was approved at the Development Control (West) Committee meeting on Thursday November 3, subject to the following condition that the ‘enclosed den’ element of the climbing frame hereby approved shall remain enclosed on the south, west and north elevations in perpetuity.”
After the decision, Mrs Blake told the Filtonvoice: “I’ve lived in this road for 16 years. It’s very much a little community, so I was very surprised when the climbing frame went up, as it was clearly against planning regulations - it’s something you’d find in Elm Park. I’ve brought up three boys - I’m not against them having a climbing frame, it’s just that the tower is far too high.
“When Jenny and Mike had their extension done, it lasted about a year - there was a lot of disruption, but I didn’t complain once about that. So I’m a bit upset that this is the thanks I get.”

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