Problem after re surfacing my front garden

7136
7136 Posts: 21
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Hi there,
not sure if there is anyone with any legal knowledge regarding highways and boundaries but I would appreciate some help. Sorry this is going to be a bit long but I want to explain everything as clear as possible. My husband and I bought a house 2 years ago, it has a long front garden with trees close to the footpath but not over the footpath and clear concrete edging separating the trees from the footpath, after checking with the council for TPO’s and also clarifying who owned the trees, the council said there were no records of any trees maintained by them or any TPO’s at our address so we went ahead and had the trees removed, we then finished our entire front garden including this area with block
paving, taking extreme caution to only replace like for like up to exactly where the original trees were. We have now had a letter from our local highways department to say we have encroached on the public footpath, we definitely have not and have pictures from Google maps showing exactly how it was before. I have checked our title deeds etc and do realise that these are only a guide , nothing on title deeds,We were also told at time of purchase that the previous owner was originally taken to court by the council over this part of the front garden and won many years ago (1970’s) we think but nothing showed in the searches and he did not highlight anything in the exchange paperwork at time of sale regarding this. He was in his 90’s when we bought the house so not sure if we could find out anything from him regarding this. In our letter from the highways department they note that the average width for a public footpath is between 1.8 and 2.5m but the road is very old and none of it is those measurements and some of our road has no footpath at all. After reading all of this what do you think we could possibly do regarding this as I’m positive it’s going to be a battle with the highways department and would really appreciate any advice. Just not sure where we stand legally with any of this. 
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  • pramsay13
    pramsay13 Posts: 1,922
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    Do the highways department think that the trees were on their land originally?
    Does the footpath narrow where it meets your land? 
    Maybe some photos would be helpful.
    I assume something must have triggered the letter so speak to them and explain what you have there along with previous photos or other evidence and see what they say. 
  • Nobbie1967
    Nobbie1967 Posts: 1,447
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    Could you send them before and after photos to show that you haven’t changed the boundary?
  • 7136
    7136 Posts: 21
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    pramsay13 said:
    Do the highways department think that the trees were on their land originally?
    Does the footpath narrow where it meets your land? 
    Maybe some photos would be helpful.
    I assume something must have triggered the letter so speak to them and explain what you have there along with previous photos or other evidence and see what they say. 
    We think a neighbour complained which was the trigger, we have before pics from google maps and will use them. We have written back to state our case but they are insisting that they are correct. 
  • 7136
    7136 Posts: 21
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    Could you send them before and after photos to show that you haven’t changed the boundary?
    Thanks for the reply, we have pictures ready to use. We have written back but they just won’t accept anything we say. 
  • sevenhills
    sevenhills Posts: 5,795
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    7136 said:
    Hi there,
    not sure if there is anyone with any legal knowledge regarding highways and boundaries but I would appreciate some help. Sorry this is going to be a bit long but I want to explain everything as clear as possible. My husband and I bought a house 2 years ago, it has a long front garden with trees close to the footpath but not over the footpath and clear concrete edging separating the trees from the footpath, after checking with the council for TPO’s and also clarifying who owned the trees, the council said there were no records of any trees maintained by them or any TPO’s at our address

    If you checked with the council as to the ownership of the trees, it must have been in your mind that the council owned the trees.

    Do you live on a street with your house and garden that are level with the other houses? So the lines of the different houses and garden borders will all follow the same line?
  • sevenhills
    sevenhills Posts: 5,795
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    7136 said:
    We think a neighbour complained which was the trigger, we have before pics from google maps and will use them. We have written back to state our case but they are insisting that they are correct. 

    Is that because you have made your garden longer than your neighbours?
  • 7136
    7136 Posts: 21
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    7136 said:
    We think a neighbour complained which was the trigger, we have before pics from google maps and will use them. We have written back to state our case but they are insisting that they are correct. 

    Is that because you have made your garden longer than your neighbours?
    No, we are not sure but think it’s the people opposite because when we started taking the trees down they came over and tried to stop the tree surgeon by stating that they had TPO’s we already checked this, but the tree surgeon phoned the council and checked again, got written proof which he emailed to the guy opposite us, also we showed him inside one of the stumps, the tree was in such a bad way it would have fallen down in the next high wind. Unfortunately I think we’ve moved into a small community who don’t like new people or change of any kind. 
  • tacpot12
    tacpot12 Posts: 7,849
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    I would write to your local councillors and explain the situation as you have above. You should also check to see if you have Legal Expenses Cover as part of your Home Insurance. If you do, call the Legal Helpline to see if they will represent you in court against the council. They might be prepared to write to the Highways department setting out your evidence and the council may think again once they know that a solictor has reviewed the evidence and finds it shows that you have done nothing wrong. 
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • Cashmygiro
    Cashmygiro Posts: 101
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    Why did you remove the trees?
  • aliby21
    aliby21 Posts: 312
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    I think you are going to have to go back to the previous owner, either direct or through solicitors, and try and find out details of the court case.
    At worst, it sounds like the highways department are concerned about you claiming part of the road/verge/pavement as garden. If you had to remove a bit of the block paving would it be detrimental to you? 
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