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Homemade flood wall must be demolished

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: January 29, 2013

Tony Davies with the wall he built around his Bickleigh home

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A Mid Devon man who built his own flood defence wall to prevent a repeat of devastating water damage to his home has been told by highways chiefs to remove the structure.

Tony Davies, who lives in a 600-year-old cottage close to the River Exe at Bickleigh, has been told he has three days to dismantle the wall or face a potential £1,000 fine and a court summons.

Devon County Council’s highways department has told Mr Davies that his wall is dangerous and imposes on the highway.

Mr Davies built the one-and-a-half foot high wall outside his cottage at the end of November following heavy flooding on November 24, which saw the car park of the Fisherman’s Cot Inn and the cricket field to the west of Mr Davies’ home become submerged.

Mr Davies said: “In the 10 years we have lived in Cobweb Cottage at Bickleigh, we have never seen the waters of the Exe flood over the highway.

“I had a small stone feature wall with wooden posts,” which he thought was high enough to prevent water flowing up to the walls of the cottage.

Mr Davies said he and his wife had also taken precautions to prevent their home being affected by rising water levels, including placing sandbags at any susceptible areas and boarding their doorways.

However, later that evening, Mr Davies realised there was water coming up through the floors, and had to take up carpets and dry out the ground floor of the property.

Days later, Mr Davies decided to build up the wall to prevent any further problems with flood water being splashed against his property by motorists driving past.

Just days after the new wall was constructed, Mr Davies received a letter from Devon County Council’s highway department saying the wall was dangerous and projected into the highway and that he would have ten days to demolish it.

After Mr Davies lodged a complaint, the ten-day period was put on hold last month, but he has since received another letter telling him he had until this Friday (February 1)) to take the wall down.

Mr Davies said: “I put in my own time and money to build this wall and I can’t believe I am being told to take it down when other neighbours are allowed to protect their properties.”

He said he had contacted Mid Devon District Council’s planning department and conservation officer who said they did not have a problem with the wall he had created outside his listed property, though they said it was highways jurisdiction to decide if the wall was a potential hazard.

Mr Davies said he would be welcome to compromise with highways officers about the width of the wall, however he said those he had been dealing with had shown little interest in this and repeatedly told him “its coming down.”

He said he believed he was being unfairly targeted because he had previous disagreements with the county council over highway issues at Bickleigh bridge outside his property.

Devon County Council was unable to provide a comment at the time of going to press.

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