Fence row erupts as father who spent £25k on garden told to make space public

Richard Hickson

Richard Hickson

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 03/10/2023

- 21:42

Updated: 03/10/2023

- 21:38

Kent County Council is warning the 37-year-old could face jail time

A fence row has erupted after a father-of-two spent £25,000 to extend his garden for his daughters.

Richard Hickson, 37, will have to throw his garden open to the public after a council ruling.

The almost five-year dispute could result in prosecution and potentially jail time, Kent County Council has warned.

KCC is ordering for the removal of the boundary as the area is a “publicly maintainable highway”.

County Hall in Maidstone

County Hall in Maidstone


Hickson said: “It was just a bit of grass with trees. It was between our house and next door.

“It was not used by anyone, it was a litter trap, and people would park on it.

“It is devastating news. All we wanted was somewhere for our girls to play.

“We will now potentially have to dismantle a portion of our fence and effectively grant public access to an area that is a haven for our children's playtime.

“It is concerning that if I had not bought it someone else would have and might have built a small bungalow on there.

“It is happening all over Istead Rise, people are trying to build houses on patches of grass but we just wanted a garden.”

The IT consultant added. “We would never have put the fence up or made it part of our garden if we knew.

“We thought if you bought it through the land registry it was then yours to do with what you liked.

“We find ourselves embroiled in a property dispute that was not of our making.”

Hickson reportedly received a letter in February following a tree inspection which made it aware of the fenced-off land.

The letter claimed it is an “offence” to “obstruct the highway in any way” and the fencing was doing that.

The letter, from a senior enforcement officer, added: “KCC has the ability to prosecute you for this offence and if found guilty, you may be liable to a fine, imprisonment, or both.

“As the highway authority, we have a duty to assert the rights of the highway user and therefore we require your immediate attention to this matter.

Istead Rise in a map of the UK

Istead Rise in a map of the UK


“The fencing surrounding the land needs to be removed immediately.”

A spokesman for KCC said: “This is part of an ongoing legal process and we are unable to comment at this time.”

Conservative Councillor Dakota Dibben, who represents Istead Rise, Cobham and Luddesdown, added: “I can understand where KCC is coming from but think it is being quite heavy-handed. It is difficult.

“I have supported the family where I can and will continue to do so no matter the decision and try and help them to find a solution.”

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