Family lose £20,000 after being told to tear wall down after 'snooty neighbours' complain

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Mohammed Saleem Ahmed, 52, was told he had to demolish the boundary wall outside his home in Southampton, Hampshire. The wall was built outside his £1.2million home after the previous one began crumbling away. Mohammed, who owns a number of restaurants, was also ordered to pay £1,500 after he breached an enforcement notice from the city council to take down the wall in November last year.

His nephew, who lives in the 10-bed home, said the wall is identical to the previous one.

Bilal Ahmed, 28, told The Sun: “My family has lived here for 35 years. My grandparents bought the house and I was born and raised here.

“As far as I can remember, this house has always had a wall there. If you look on Google Maps, as far back as you can, there is a wall there.

“There was a cherry tree and the roots were growing into the wall. The tree fell numerous times into the road which we had to repair.

“In early 2018 a tree surgeon diagnosed the tree as diseased and dying and a threat to the public so it was removed immediately. Once the tree was removed it was evident to see that the wall was bowed and it was becoming a safety threat. Imagine if a kid was running past the wall during Storm Eunice, that kid would die.”

Bilal said the family had asked bricklayers to repair and restore the wall, but as this was being done they realised they would have to completely rebuild the wall to ensure it was safe.

The wall was rebuilt in the same spot to the same height and the same design using the closest matching colour bricks available.

A planning enforcement officer then told the family that they would need to apply for retrospective planning permission which was rejected.

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He explained: “A planning consultant told us none of the changes we made were material changes and we had done everything to make sure it was in keeping with the original house and existing side wall. We even replanted the same foliage behind the wall, which is maturing well. And we said we would rough up the wall with cow dung treatment to make it look older.”

Eventually, the council told them that the new wall must be no more than one metre high, despite the previous one being “double” that.

Bilal was shocked to be told the wall had to be removed, with some neighbours asking why it was being demolished.

But he said not all neighbours were understanding, adding: “They would much rather see your property crumbling than see you restore it. We have spent at least £20,000 on restoring this wall and now demolishing it and on legal fees and fines.”

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Bilal says nothing has been gained from tearing the wall down and “we are out of pocket because we felt we had to do something because the wall was not safe”.

He added: “Now we have had three attempted break-ins since the wall has gone and the gate has gone. We have never had a break-in in 35 years. I have family members who feel threatened in their own home, especially as the wall has now been demolished. It’s a safety threat to us. It’s ridiculous I think, disgusting.”

The family have now been left “with no security” and the wall “gave individuality to the property”, Bilal added.

Next door neighbours Jane and Norman McLean said they were unhappy with the wall being taken down and had written a letter to the council.

Mrs McLean, an 82-year-old retired GP, said: “My husband and I thought it was an attractive wall and we disagree with what’s happening.”

But another neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We are glad it’s coming down. It wasn’t in keeping with the rest of the street. The bricks were like nothing else that was in the house. It was much taller than other walls around here. It wasn’t that high before. I would say it is significantly taller.”



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