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Fenced in by six-inch Lancaster tennis land row

Michael and Jacqueline Higson with the fence they built in their garden.

Michael and Jacqueline Higson with the fence they built in their garden.

A Lancaster couple has lost a bitter 10-year battle with a tennis club over a tiny six-inch strip of land.

Michael and Jacqueline Higson are devastated after a court ruling put them tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket – for building a fence in their garden.

An Appeal Court judge backed their neighbours Bowerham Lawn Tennis Club who said the fence is on their land and blocks access for tennis court repairs. The Higsons, who face a whopping bill for legal costs, said the ruling was “ludicrous”.

Mrs Higson, a Lancaster University lecturer, said: “We’re at a loss.

“We bought this house thinking we knew where the boundary was. Ten years down the line, we’re told that’s wrong.

“The lesson is, when you buy a house, do not believe what you’re being sold. Our fence replaced a fence that was already there. Lancaster City Council said it was fine,

“Our daughter is slap-bang in the middle of her GCSEs and we don’t need this.”

fence replaced a fence that was already there. Lancaster City Council said it was fine.

Lord Justice Aikens, during a hearing at London’s Appeal Court, said the fence, built in 2004, “extruded into the area of the club’s right of way” – a lane near the Higsons’ home on Barton Road – and ordered the couple to remove six of their fence panels.

The judge said the hotly-disputed piece of land was “very small – measuring only about six inches wide and some yards in length”.

“None of these things are good for neighbours and this case is no exception,” he said.

“The club says that without these extra few inches, large vehicles cannot – with any ease – get down the lane to the tennis courts for the purpose of maintenance. If the club cannot maintain its tennis courts properly it cannot function as a tennis club nor is the task of removing the six fence panels a Herculean one for the Higsons.”

The Higsons had already been ordered to pay £3,150 in compensation to the club at a Lancaster County Court hearing in 2013

Bowerham Lawn Tennis Club was unavailable for comment as the Guardian went to press.

 

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