The county council has agreed a policy for fencing-off and installing parking areas in front gardens on open-plan estates.
Many council estates built in the 1960s and 1970s were designed on a principle of open planning with front gardens that were not fenced.
Many of the homes are now in private ownership and the council often receives requests or planning applications to fence off the gardens or to construct parking areas, but until now there has been no consistency of approach.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the decision-making cabinet, it was agreed that all future requests to fence off frontages will be refused, but construction of hard-standings for cars will be considered, subject to certain conditions.
Coun Jeff Reid voted against it and said: “I wouldn’t want to see one policy that applies to ex-council estates and another one that applies to estates that were built by developers to be sold privately. I wouldn’t like to see apartheid in this.”
Coun Ian Swithenbank said: “Where we own the estate, it’s a question of management; where we don’t, it’s a question of planning.”
Coun Paul Kelly said: “All of the problems in my ward have been on private estates which are open-plan. It’s currently a dog’s breakfast and very difficult to interpret consistently. Without policy, it’s sticking your finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.”
Coun Robert Arckless, who explained that he lives on an estate which was open-plan, but was fenced off by the council at the request of tenants, said: “The present situation is a mess and that needs to be rectified, but we need to be pragmatic as well.”