Couple face £160,000 bill after battle with 'monstrous' neighbours

Couple face £160,000 bill after losing seven-year legal battle against ‘monstrous’ millionaire neighbours who erected a 6ft fence boxing in their £600,000 Suffolk home

  • Gary and Kerry Hambling say the fence has wiped £100,000 off the house value
  • Mr Hambling described Garry and Jenny Wakerly as ‘neighbours from hell’

A couple have lost a £160,000 court bid to force their ‘monstrous’ millionaire neighbours to tear down a six-foot fence boxing in their country dream home and stopping them using their front door.

Gary and Kerry Hambling thought they had found a perfect country idyll when they bought Garden Cottage, near Polstead, Suffolk, in 2015.

The four-bedroom chocolate box home with a quarter of an acre of gardens has its own stable block and a two-acre field just yards away, across a drive owned by neighbours Garry and Jenny Wakerly.

But a row led to the Wakerlys erecting a six-foot fence on either side of their driveway, blocking the Hamblings from accessing the field from their driveway. 

The Wakerlys – whose £1m house, Tills Farm Cottage, lies on the same former farm as the Hamblings’ – blocked off steps the Hamblings had built from their front door to the track, preventing them leaving their property in that direction.

The Hamblings, who live in Garden Cottage (hightlighted yellow, left) allege their millionaire neighbours the Wakerlys, who live in Tills Farm Cottage (highlighted red, right) erected a 6ft fence which stops them from using their front door to access the Hamblings’ field (highlighted yellow, right)

The Wakerleys claim they built the fence to stop their neighbours from walking over their driveway (pictured) to access the field (right) which is owned by the Hamblings 

The Hamblings say the fence has wiped £100,000 off the value of their £600,000 house, also blocking access from their stables to the field, cutting off the views across the field previously enjoyed from their living room and making the ground floor of their house dark.

They went on to sue their neighbours, asking a High Court judge to force them to reopen the ‘front door’ access, and labelling their actions ‘monstrous’ and ‘deliberately and unpleasantly antagonistic’.

The legal battle centred over whether an inherited right of way meant the fence was illegally blocking the Hamblings’ access to their field. 

But judge Sir Anthony Mann has now found that the Hamblings have no right to get to their field from the cottage, ruling that the fence can stay up and leaving them saddling a court bill of at least £160,000.

During the trial of the case, the judge heard that the ‘unfortunate’ neighbours’ squabble started in 2016, about a year after the Hamblings had moved into Garden Cottage.

The Wakerlys were upset and ‘friction’ grew about plans the Hamblings had to make changes to their rural property, in particular when they turned part of their field – which had been used by the previous owners of Garden Cottage to exercise horses – into a ‘car park’ for ‘vans and trucks’.

They responded by telling Mr Hambling, 48, and Mrs Hambling, 44, that they were no longer permitted to cross over the driveway – which lies between the Hamblings’ front door and their field – to access the field from their house.

Speaking previously to MailOnline, Mr Hambling said the Wakerlys are ‘neighbours from hell’.

He continued: ‘When the fence was first put up the kids (who are now 16, 18 and 20) were young and were having to walk along the 60mph road. The house is unsellable with the current situation.’

A couple are at war with their ‘monstrous’ millionaire neighbours who they claim boxed in their £600,000 dream home with a six-foot fence that allegedly prevents them from using their front door

Gary and Kerry Hambling (pictured outside London’s High Court) claim the fence put up by neighbours Garry and Jenny Wakerly has wiped £100,000 off the value of their Suffolk house

The Hamblings said it was dangerous for their young children to walk between the two parcels of land along the 60mph road

This is now the view from the Hamblings’ front window as they say the fence has made their ground floor dark

Couple at war with their ‘monstrous’ millionaire neighbours, who they accuse of boxing in their £600,000 Suffolk home with a six-foot fence: READ MORE 

Gary and Kerry Hambling claimed in court that the fence put up by Garry and Jenny Wakerly has wiped £100,000 off the value of their Suffolk house

‘We’re the fourth family to own this house in 20 years and we should have taken that as a red flag but we didn’t. There’s a reason so many people have sold.

‘We have used the drive just as every other family have used it.’

The Hamblings – who own a utilities installation company – had inherited a right of way to access their field up their neighbours’ track from the main A1071 Hadleigh Road when they bought the property, the court heard.

They were forbidden from getting to the cottage the same way under the right of way, but had been permitted to cross the track by their neighbours whilst relations were still friendly.

But in June 2017 after a frosty exchange of lawyers’ letters, during which the Hamblings were accused by their neighbours of ‘trespassing’ on the drive, the Wakerlys had contractors put up a 1.8m high close-boarded wooden fence, with concrete posts and gravel boards, along the edge of their drive and down one side of their neighbours’ front garden.

The fence effectively boxed them in, leaving them having to access their field via the driveway on the other side of their property and then along the 60mph main road.

The legal row centred on the wording of the right of way, granted to the then owners of the property in 2001 and stating that the Wakerlys’ driveway could be used ‘for access to the field not to Garden Cottage’.

The case reached court initially in 2021 when Judge Karen Walden-Smith at Norwich County Court ruled in favour of the Wakerlys and allowed the fence blocking off Garden Cottage from the track and the field to remain.

Giving her judgment in September 2021, she described the row as a ‘highly unfortunate case where owners of two country properties have not been able to find a way in which they can co-exist without friction.’

Finding for the Wakerlys, she said they were entitled to put up the fence because the right of way up the track was only for the use of the field, while Garden Cottage had its own access on the other side of the property.

‘The express right of way in this matter is clear,’ she said. ‘Not only is it for the benefit of the field, but it is expressly said not to be for the benefit of Garden Cottage.’

But challenging that finding in the High Court last month, Dermot Woolgar, for Mr and Mrs Hambling, said the judge in the county court had misinterpreted the wording of the right of way.

He argued that the Hamblings had the right to use the front door of their cottage from the track if they had travelled up it from the road to their field first, or were going to the cottage for reasons connected to activities being carried on in the field.

But Charles Irvine, for the Wakerlys, asked the judge to throw out their neighbours’ case and let the fence stand as it is.

‘The transfer wording is clear that the track should only be used ‘for access to the field not to Garden Cottage’, i.e. for access to and from the field and not to and from the cottage.

‘Contrary to Mr and Mrs Hamblings’ case, its meaning is as straightforward as the judge found,’ he said.

Pictured: This before and after shows the outlook from the front door of the property before and after the fence was put in

Pictured: Garry Wakerly (far right) and his wife, Jenny (left) examining the property prior to the fence being put in

Ruling in the Wakerlys’ favour, Sir Anthony Mann said: ‘The grantor of the (right of way) did not want the track blocked by domestic and delivery vehicles as being a reason why it was framed so as to exclude the possibility of the right of way being used for access to the cottage at all.

‘I agree with the judge that the natural meaning of the words is as she said.

‘The words forbidding access qualify not only the right which would otherwise be given to the cottage, they also qualify the rights given to the field.

‘The clear wording of the transfer works against the Hamblings’ case,’ he said, highlighting ‘attempts by the Hamblings to force a very unnatural construction on the words of the grant’.

‘I therefore find that the express terms of the grant of the (right of way) actually prohibit the use of the track as a means of access between the cottage and the field,’ he continued.

‘The words of prohibition mean what they say and it is not possible to force another interpretation on them.

‘Garden Cottage was not purchased subsequent to the purchase of the field and was not purchased for the purpose of making use of the field.

‘Both the field and the cottage have their own independent purpose.

‘The grant actually forbids access to and from the cottage, and that must mean wherever one is coming from. There is no scope for arguing for ‘ancillary’ use in those circumstances.

‘It follows that this appeal is dismissed,’ the judge concluded.

The Hamblings previously disclosed that the original county court trial cost them £100,000 and the appeal another £60,000.

Source: Read Full Article