A father says he is willing to be arrested over the garden fence he has built to keep his autistic daughter safe.
Cliff and Dawn Baker have been ordered by a council to alter the 1.8m fence they constructed around their house in Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, to prevent their 10-year-old daughter, TJ White, from running out on to the road.
TJ has autism and learning difficulties and is believed to be one of only two people in the world with a rare chromosome depletion that makes her behaviour hard to predict.
The couple say they have a letter from a paediatrician which says the privacy fence is crucial for their daughter’s safety.
However, Newark and Sherwood District Council have ordered that the fence is lowered, saying it is 82cm too high.
The fence cost the couple £1,000 to construct and they spent another £400 appealing the council’s decision – but the appeal was rejected.
They have been given until February next year to reduce the size of the fence.
But Mr Baker, 43, a full-time carer along with his wife, said: “I am willing to be arrested over this because there’s no way I am backing down.
“We have tried to work with the council over the past few months but they have just been blanking us. I cannot believe common sense hasn’t prevailed yet.
“My daughter’s safety comes first. She is my priority and I am sticking to my guns. It’s not cosmetic, the fence is purely practical and to keep TJ safe.”
He said their local councillor has written to housing secretary Michael Gove about the matter.
“We want the law to be more flexible in planning matters relating to children with disabilities,” said Mr Baker.
“We also want to extend February’s deadline until we get a response from Gove’s office but the council just ignored that request as well.
“I’m certain they are going to take legal action against me. I can’t believe I could end up with a criminal record just for trying to keep our daughter safe.
“I’ve never had a criminal record before but if it comes to that, so be it. I’m getting one for a good reason.”
The Bakers said they were given the green light from their landlord to build the fence almost two years ago but did not know it needed planning permission.
Previously, the property had a picket fence but TJ would remove it and push it out.
The council has asked the couple to reduce the fence to a height of 1m, but they say that would allow their daughter to get out.
“They won’t let us keep TJ safe,” said Mr Baker. “She has no road sense. She could be hit by a car if she jumps or leaves, someone could harm her.
“We built this fence just so she had a safe space. When we go out we have to grab hold of her and this garden is really her only sanctuary.
The couple said TJ also has chromosome 4q26q27 deletion, and is thought to be one of only two people in the world with it.
“The paediatricians know that little about it that its significance it not really known,” said Mrs Baker, 48.
“The medical issues are hard enough to cope with without having this fence row on top of everything.
“All we want is the best for our daughter.”
Lisa Hughes, business manager for planning development at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said previously: “We conducted our investigations and found that the height of the fence contradicted national legislation and was negatively impacting upon local amenity.
“A notice was issued requiring that the fence be reduced in height to one metre, the maximum height permitted adjacent to a highway.
“This is obviously a difficult and emotional case; we wanted to help the applicant and have offered alternative solutions, which have been supported by the Planning Inspector, but unfortunately these have thus far been turned down by the applicant.”
The council has been contacted for further comment.
How high can I build a garden fence in the UK?
Residents in the UK can build a garden fence or wall up to a height of 2m (6ft 6in) without planning permission.
However, if it is next to a highway used by vehicles, any fence or wall over the height of 1m is subject to planning permission.
This is detailed in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development Order) 2015 legislation.