Locals are furious after a neighbour who built a crime fighting fence nicknamed the ‘great wall of Colchester’ has been ordered to tear it down.
The eight-foot tall wooden barrier was put up by the vigilante resident who was fed up of anti-social behaviour plaguing the entrance to the newbuild estate, just outside Colchester City Centre.
The resident, who got funding from the estate’s developers, originally claimed he did not need planning permission for the barrier.
But the council disagreed and has given him six months to have it removed.
Neighbours want the £2k fence to stay and claim it has stopped vandalism and attacks where their homes were stoned, car tyres were let down and used needles left in the road.
One woman told MailOnline: ‘It’s been wonderful ever since. The problem literally stopped overnight – and it means we have got our lovely little community back – it’s like heaven.’
The eight-foot tall fence (pictured, with a red and white sign) was built across a path into the estate to deter anti-social behavior after residents complained
The fence has a warning notice stating that the square and 22 homes on the housing estate are private property
A neighbour has built a fence dubbed the ‘great wall of Colchester’ in order to protect a housing estate battling drugs gangs and vandals (pictured, Cllr Dave Harris and resident Jennifer Redford)
Retrospective planning permission was applied for but Colchester Council has ordered the barrier be torn down within six months.
City and county councillor Dave Harris, who has taken up the case for the residents, said: ‘I have had many complaints about anti-social behaviour and abuse as well as damage to cars and property.
‘This is a lovely little estate but it had become a nightmare for people living here. The path was used by the dealers and their customers and there was a lot of associated problems such as damage to cars, windows being smashed and shouting and screaming.
‘I had many complaints from residents and asked the land-owners to consider taking steps to curb the problems. The management company suggested putting up a fence to block the path and the residents were happy with that.
‘It was put up with council advice but now suddenly the people there have been told that it must come down – and they will have to find another way to protect themselves.’
Resident Sarah Crace, 37, said: ‘Things have been getting worse and worse – it was not a safe place to let your children play but since the gate has been built it is a lovely to live here again.
‘I was one of the first to move in and until, a couple of years ago it was lovely to live here. But the cut-through soon became a handy route for the dealers and their customers.
‘The wall has been very effective and we hope it can stay. Life has been much quieter since it went up and people just feel safer these days.’
School caretaker Tim Everett and his wife Jayne who live in the new development are disappointed at the lack of action take to clean up the problems of the drug users and suppliers.
But Colchester council say there is no planning permission for the fence and have said it needs to be taken down within six months (pictured, Cllr Dave Harris and resident Jennifer Redford)
Residents are furious with the council’s decision because they claim it protects them from vandalism and attacks on their cars
Tim, a former builder, said: ‘We came here because it seemed so nice and peaceful.
‘But there are problems and everyone who lives here was in favour of the wall – it discourages the dealers and people hanging around the square waiting for their fix.’
Another young mother living in the square said: ‘The situation was just getting worse and worse – these people were even sitting on my car and openly doing drugs – smoking pipes and things.
‘It was going on for most of the day and at night until we all decided to do do something about it.
‘We all agreed that a fence was the answer so we talked to the agents who manage the place and they used £2,500 to put up the barrier.
‘And it’s been wonderful ever since. The problem literally stopped overnight – and it means we have got our lovely little community back – it’s like heaven.’
Nearby resident Jennifer Radford, 77, said: ‘There was often police activity in that area. One of the problems was that there was not enough CCTV or street lights.’
But Colchester City Council – despite initially supporting the wall – are now insisting it will have to come down.
A council spokesman said: ‘We request the applicant’s co-operation in removing the fencing following the Planning Committee’s decision to refuse the application.
‘If they do not appeal, or if their appeal is subsequently dismissed, and they fail to cooperate in removing the fencing within a reasonable time-frame, we will be forced to employ statutory enforcement powers.’
However a spokesman for Boydens, the Colchester agents who manage the estate said: ‘We sought and received written confirmation from the Principal Planning Officer of Colchester Borough Council that no permission would be needed to install the fence and so this was carried out on our clients instruction.’