A couple who created a vegetable patch during the pandemic have been slapped with a bill for growing food in their own garden.
Lee and Kirstie Lawes built the plot by transforming part of their lawn into raised beds to grow their own produce alongside their two-year-old granddaughter, Ella.
But the pair were left gobsmacked when town hall chiefs decided the work constituted a 'change of use' to their property in Deeping St James, Lincs.
South Kesteven District Council now wants to charge the couple £469 ($637) for planning permission, leaving the couple baffled.
Lee says he consulted Land Registry records, which show the land has been part of the property they purchased since 1969.
But according to the council, part of the garden is classed an open space and by turning it into a place where vegetables are grown they have officially changed its use.
Lee said: “We moved into the house in December 2020, and on Christmas Day found a car parked on our garden.
“This happened a couple of times, and I also became fed up with having to pick up dog poo from the grass before I mowed it.
“So, in January last year we decided to put in a new fence and use that part of the garden for raised vegetable beds.
“It was great - we ended up with so much produce we were able to give some to neighbours and left some out so that people could help themselves."
He added: "But a year on, we had a letter from the council saying we needed to pay £469 for a ‘change of use’ of the land.
"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 £469 for the privilege.
"It would have been easier to extend our house onto the land."
A spokesman for South Kesteven District Council said: "The land at the rear of these properties is classed 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."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS
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