Express & Star

Wolverhampton residents dig in to stop housing association 'stealing our gardens'

Green-fingered residents in a Wolverhampton estate are digging in for a battle against a housing association which claim it owns their gardens.

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Steven Harris with fellow residents are furious about their Stanley Road gardens being taken from them

The gardens of Steven Harris and fellow residents of the Stanley Road over-55 residential complex are their pride and joy.

For the 18 years Steven has lived in Stanley Road he has created an oasis of calm and serenity in his garden - only to be told last week the land is not his and to leave it alone.

The homes are managed by Green Square Accord housing association, however, since a new housing officer began working there the gardens have become an issue. The housing association claim the gardens should be one communal space.

Steven said: "We have been all living here happily for years, all adding value to the properties by tending to and adding to our beloved gardens.

"Then the other week a new housing officer came down from Green Square Accord and she told us all we had no right using the gardens as it was their land, and the gardens were not for individual homes but was a communal space.

"How can you get in trouble for making something beautiful using your own money and time?"

He added: "What is galling is we have all worked really hard to make this area look nice, and instead of a thank you we get threatened. Everyone is really concerned and this has caused a lot of worry for a community of over-55s and pensioners."

Determined to keep their lawns prim and proper and roses ready to bloom, the residents decided to do a bit of detective work of their own and trawled through planning documents at Wolverhampton Council to find the original application for the properties.

Steven said: "We found the plans and the original planning decision, and it refers to 'curtilage and small irregular gardens'.

"The plans show plot numbers and a boundary line, but the housing association say that the plans were only approved on the grounds that all land was communal.

"But I am unable to find any reference to that in any of the online documents or in the land registry. So we are digging in and are going to fight this land grab, for all we know they might want to build an apartment block on our gardens."

The homes, known as Bushbury Triangle, were part of a 149-home development which was built by Barratt Homes, Accord Housing and Heatnun Housing Association after Wolverhampton Council granted planning permission in 2015.

A spokesperson from Green Square Accord said: “We are aware some of our customers on Stanley Road are concerned about being able to continue to use the shared space at the back of their homes and we’re committed to working with them to resolve this.

"For clarity, this is shared space which is owned and managed by Green Square Accord for the benefit of all customers at our Stanley Road scheme, it is not a garden attached to a particular property or properties.

“We took responsibility for managing the homes on Stanley Road back in-house recently and it has become clear some customers have been using the shared space to store personal items and have made significant alterations to the space, including installing patios, without gaining our permission.

“It is important this space is accessible and welcoming for everyone at the scheme and we will be holding a consultation event later this month with a focus on finding the best solution for all customers.”