Bickleigh man told to pull down flood defence wall
Council chiefs are forcing a Devon man to tear down a flood defence wall he built to protect his 600-year-old cottage from future floods – because it's 25mm too wide.
Tony Davies, 59, has been ordered to demolish the wall outside the listed building or face prosecution and a potential £1,000 fine.
Mr Davies said his pleas for help to Devon County Council to help prevent the River Exe flooding his home again at Bickleigh were ignored so he took matters into his own hands.
The concrete wall stands 1.6ft high and just under 10 inches in width.
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However, because it converges just 25mm onto the road from his land and he failed to obtain planning permission, council officials have stepped in to order its removal.
Mr Davies, a construction site manager, and his wife were flooded out in November last year when the Little Dart river broke its banks. They are still living in temporary accommodation.
Mr Davies said the council have sent two notices since November ordering him to pull the wall down.
He said: "I built the wall because I have to protect my home. The council have done nothing to help me so I had no choice other than to take matters into my own hands.
"Anyone who has been through the utter misery of being flooded will understand how we feel and why I built the wall.
"It's been a total nightmare and I just want to protect our cottage."
Mr Davies said officials inspected the wall without informing him and refused to discuss the matter.
He said he would shave the 25mm off the wall and apply for retrospective planning permission.
Mr Davies accepts that on Friday he will have to demolish the wall or face the consequences.
He said: "I paid for the wall myself and am not costing the taxpayer a penny.
"Local councils are always going on about not having any money and yet when someone pays for the work themselves they're still not happy.
"The council are more interested in getting everyone to stick to their rules rather than actually helping people when they need it most.
"I'll have to use sandbags in future which the council will moan look unsightly." Devon County Council last night stuck to their guns and insisted the wall was a "hazard" to road users.
A spokesman for the authority said: "Devon County Council, as highway authority, has a duty to protect the highway for the benefit of all highway users.
"As a result of Mr Davies constructing a wall which infringes on the carriageway, we have no choice but to take enforcement action. While we are sympathetic to Mr Davies' position, this wall has been built on a particularly narrow point on the A396 and presents a hazard to highway users."