A civil engineer who was forced to remove a ‘Berlin Wall’ around his house after a 12 year legal battle is in hot water again – over 16 giant TREES in his garden.
David Alvand, 66, has grown a line of 35ft leyland cypress trees which engulf his entire front garden and tower above his suburban semi.
The huge plants completely obscure the three-bedroomed property and hang over the road outside.
Mr Alvand was nearly jailed in 2003 after he built a 12ft concrete wall around his back garden without planning permission, which neighbours dubbed the ‘Berlin Wall’.
They waged a 12 year legal battle to force him to take it down and the row was nearly taken to the European Court of Human Rights.
The legal dispute cost the local council £20,000 but it eventually won and Alvand was forced to rip the wall down.
But local residents have now got together again to launch a formal complaint about his trees under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act.
The trees, which were planted in 1991 shortly after Mr Alvand moved in, now reach up to 35ft and are touching the front of the property in Plymouth, Devon.
But Mr Alvand says he will not be chopping the trees back and the complaints are part of a ”personal vendetta” against him.
He said: ”I have been chased for two decades over the state of my gardens. I feel victimised. The neighbours are complaining because they have a vendetta against me.
”I am a law abiding citizen and I have suffered for 20 years being chased over my wall and trees. It’s my land.”
But one resident said: ”That wall took years to sort out. It’s been a nightmare. Now the trees are an eyesore – they block out sunlight and make the street look bad.”
Another neighbour added: ”I think the trees are monstrous. They have gone higher than the roof of our houses now. They look horrendous.”
Problems in the quiet street began shortly after Alvand moved in and was refused planning permission to built a 12ft (3.5m) concrete wall around his garden.
But he built it anyway using concrete breeze blocks topped off with corrugated iron and used the space to store plants and create a roof terrace.
His next door neighbour Roger Coach, 40, immediately complained to the council and said he was enduring ”Stalag-like conditions” which were ”blighting” his life.
Speaking at the time, he said: ”It’s so bad, it’s worse than the Berlin Wall. The situation is absolutely ridiculous and the owner won’t speak to us. He’s not willing to compromise.”
The case then lasted an incredible 12 years and Alvand was served a number of enforcement notices by Plymouth City Council – which he ignored.
He claimed the wall was in fact a greenhouse which under planning laws do not require council permission.
The case was then taken through three appeals, a government inspector, a public meeting, two High Court sessions, magistrates court and the Court of Appeal in London.
The council then began to prepare for the case to go to the European Court of Human Rights and promised ”to exhaust all legal channels”.
Alvand was eventually found guilty of breaking planning laws at Plymouth Crown Court in 2004 and ordered to pay a £700 fine and £2,500 costs.
The council was then given the right to go to court to ask for Alvand to be jailed and to carry out the work itself and send him the bill.
But before the court appearance he agreed to take the wall down to the agreed height of two metres (6ft).
Recorder Michael Longman told him: ”It is clear that for a considerable period of time you have chosen deliberately to thwart the planning laws for your own selfish advantage, regardless of your neighbours.
”They were left to suffer in the shadows caused by the unlawful development of your property.”
Plymouth City Council has now launched an investigation into the tree complaints but said the issue is ‘on hold’ in the hope that both parties could come to an agreement.
A spokesman said: ”Our tree officers have contacted Mr Alvand, who indicated he would like to explore further mediation with his neighbours.
”It’s good practice to put a complaint on hold for a short time to see if an amicable solution can be found.”