Battle over Cotherstone stream will flow on and on
Jul 30 2010 The Journal
A COSTLY boundary dispute over a stream continues to rumble on as two families fight over ownership.
Mother-of-three Gillian Hodgson and her neighbours Ian and Diane Pennock have already spent thousands of pounds on lawyers’ bills as they struggle over ownership of the narrow stretch of water that runs between their homes.
But the Pennocks are now planning to take their fight to the nation’s highest court after a judge ruled in favour of Mrs Hodgson.
Lord Justice Mummery bemoaned the argument over the narrow stream that runs between their properties on Moor Road, Cotherstone, near Barnard Castle, describing it as only causing “ill feeling” and costing a huge amount of money.
Mrs Hodgson, who has lived in her home, called Kalmara, since 1993, launched her challenge after the Pennocks built a stone wall along the stream’s southern bank. She maintains that both banks are part of her property and within her boundaries.
The 69-year-old said: “This whole process has made life very hard but it’s not my doing – I’m only sticking up for my rights.”
Meanwhile, the Pennocks, both in their 40s, built their home after buying the land at auction in 2005.
They claimed the wall marks the boundary of their land and mounted their own challenge for trespassing after Mrs Hodgson was found wading in the stream.
Now they are planning to take their fight to the Court of Appeal for permission to go to the Supreme Court.
Jaroslaw Stachiw, who is working for the couple, said it was a very complex case but justice had still not been reached. He said: “We are now considering a further appeal. I feel particularly aggrieved that the judgement brings even more uncertainty.
“The two parties have to live side by side in a small village so it’s a very difficult situation. The decision means the vast majority of people can no longer resort to their deeds any more to see what they own or what they are selling.
“If they unfortunately get into a dispute with their neighbours, even where their plan is absolutely clear, it can only be resolved by a judge. This will only lead to more boundary disputes and litigation.”
Mrs Hodgson is determined to fight on, despite the case already costing her thousands of pounds. She said: “It has been hell. I have had to fight this all on my own without any kind of insurance.
“Now it is still not over as the Pennocks are not happy. It does seem it will never end. But we do have to settle it somehow as otherwise neither of us would have been able to sell our homes if there wasn’t a clear boundary.”
Her solicitor Ken Wiper said it was a very sad situation to be in.
He said: “There are huge inequalities between the neighbours as one side has legal expenses insurance and Mrs Hodgson has been paying out of her savings. The whole thing has been extremely distressing and it seems daft that it has got to this stage.”