Never is the saying ‘good fences make great neighbours’ proven truer than when the opposite happens.

While we can quickly tell if a fence is ‘good’ or not, for many a good fence is one that doesn’t appear too obvious or in-your-face. Often a fence should be like a referee – sometimes they’re doing their best work when they’re not interfering at all.

Unfortunately a number of fence designs have recently arisen that literally demand a referee with a suitably loud whistle.

A new subdivision in Avalon has Lower Hutt residents up in arms (and up on ladders), trying to see over the now looming border. The new fence, built on top of a retaining wall, is certainly an eyesore to the unfortunate neighbours who now have to deal with a structure that in places rises to close to 3 metres in height.

The news comes after another high profile case in the capital last year. This dispute went to the High Court as neighbours battled around destroyed views and suitable compensation.

Dr Imran Muhammad, associate professor of urban planning and design at Massey University, was quoted in a recent Stuff article as saying “tall fences were a noticeable feature of many new subdivisions and were a concerning trend in New Zealand’s residential environments.”

Dr Muhammad said that the new fencing was a combination of factors, including, “safety, privacy, hiding untidy yards and simply following what the neighbours were doing.”

He also said that, “People were tending to ‘look more inwardly’ and were thinking less about their neighbours and neighbourhood. It was a case of a physical barrier becoming a barrier to social cohesion.”

You can read more of his response here – there’s certainly plenty of food for thought!