Lincolnshire couple charged £ 500 for growing veg in their own garden

Lee and Kirstie Lawes said they were punished for living more sustainably (Picture: SWNS)

A council has been accused of ‘hypocrisy’ after forcing a couple to get planning permission to keep growing vegetables in their own garden.

Lee and Kirstie Lawes claim they have effectively been fined hundreds of thousands of pounds for fencing off land on their property in Deeping St James, Lincolnshire, unaware that it was classified as ‘open space’.

The order will force them to shell out £ 462 for a planning application – which could all go to waste if it’s rejected.

The couple decided to start a vegetable plot during the pandemic and settled on an unfenced patch of lawn toward the rear of their garden.

At the same time, they had become fed up with repeatedly finding dog poo and cars parked on the grass, making it difficult to mow.

Aftr confirming the land was part of the property through Land Registry records, the couple put up a fence and raised vegetable beds in January 2021.

Mr Lawes said: ‘It was great – we ended up with so much produce we were able to give some to neighbors and left some out so that people could help themselves.

‘But a year on, we had a letter from the council saying we needed to pay [over £400] for a ‘change of use’ of the land. ‘

Google Maps image showing Lee and Kirstie Lawes' home.  The green line shows the position of their original fence - the red area is their land which they fenced off - only to get a fine from the council.  See SWNS story SWMDveg.  A couple have been left gobsmacked after being slapped with council bill for not seeking planning permission to create a vegetable plot in their own garden Lee and Kirstie Lawes decided to transform part of their lawn into raised beds so they have more room to grow their own ?  - something they can enjoy with their two-year-old granddaughter Ella on her regular visits.  But South Kesteven District Council has decided this constitutes a 'change of use' at the property in Broadgate Lane, Deeping St James, and wants to charge them? 469 for planning permission.

The couple must pay £ 469 or face legal action from the council (Picture: SWNS)

Officials from South Kesteven District Council told them part of their garden was classified as ‘informal open space’, which means the public must be able to access it freely for activities such as walking.

If the couple fails to apply for the change of use they face being unable to sell or remortgage their property.

Mr Lawes added: ‘I accept they are following procedure but it’s the hypocrisy of it that I find frustrating.

‘The government is telling us to be more sustainable but when someone starts to “grow their own”, the council tells you to pay… for the privilege.

‘It would have been easier to extend our house onto the land.’

Planning permission fees are set nationally by the government.

A spokesman for South Kesteven District Council said: ‘The land at the rear of these properties is classified as informal open space and the owner has not applied for planning permission to change that.

‘We have been advising them throughout on the lawful use of this land and continue to offer informal help while encouraging them to apply for planning permission, without which they might struggle to re-mortgage or sell the property.’

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