A 92 year old home owner has been told to destroy her beloved flower bed immediately or face legal action.
Ever since moving into her Grade II Listed home, Rose Cottage in 1967, Thelma Peppert has carefully tended the flowers growing outside the front door of her home. However, she has now received a letter instructing her to remove the rosebed outside her home immediately – or face legal action.
The letter from the Parish Council in Dalton Piercy, a village just outside Hartlepool, said the retired secretary was no longer allowed to keep her garden because the land is part of the village green:
‘It has come to the notice of the Parish Council that once again you have developed a garden in front of your home on village green land. You will be well aware that this is not acceptable, your mother having failed in an attempt to claim this lands some years ago.
The Parish Council therefore instructs you to remove the garden and any stones or ornaments placed on village green land. You have 14 days to comply with this instruction. Should you not do so, the Parish Council will have the garden removed and bill you for the work. Legal action will ensue immediately if you should interfere with those instructed to do this.’
The letter was addressed Mrs Peppert’s son, Joe Proudlock, who resides with her in the 18th Century cottage and acts as her main carer. Mr Proudlock said his mother was ‘stunned and shocked’ as the cottage and flowers had been his mother’s pride and joy for 50 years.
He said: “Now they want her to needlessly destroy it. There is a picture of me as a young lad in 1967 standing next to the rose beds and it looks exactly the same as it does now. My mother has always loved gardening. Her health is deteriorating but she still loves admiring the flowers out the window. Now the council are making her twilight years hell and the stress of this letter has caused her to be physically sick.”
Dalton Piercy Parish Council said it had to act after the size of the garden increased by about a foot – a claim that Mr Proudlock denies. Council spokesman, Alan Timothy, said the land was theirs by law: “Over the years, we have allowed Rose Cottage to keep a small front garden with some roses as a gesture of goodwill. However, in recent months the flower bed has expanded. We can only tolerate so much and have no choice but to order them to completely remove the garden. The village green is two acres in total and there are 25 houses built around it. Imagine if all those houses started taking bits of the green to grow roses on it.”
In 2010, the Land Registry turned down an attempt by Mrs Peppert to claim ownership of the land in front of her two bedroom home. Land Registry concluded that the rose feature constituted a ‘public nuisance’, saying that Mrs Peppert had cultivated the land in order to prevent other people’s enjoyment of the green. The Parish Council says that £25,000 of taxpayers money had already been spent defending litigation, and that it had chosen to allow the feature, as long as it was kept close to the cottage wall.
However, there was another twist in the story when contractors started digging up the turf in front of the cottage, telling Mr Proudlock that they were building a car park for nearby allotments. The council has said it is building a children’s play area, which the home owners were trying to block by making the garden bigger.
An online petition to save the rose garden has already attracted over 12,000 signatures, to which the council has responded by saying it will offer an ‘olive branch’ to allow a strip of roses – as long as they don’t block the track.
When you buy property with no front garden, you have no automatic right to establish a flower bed, even if it is only along the side of your property. Get advice and a survey from an independent Chartered Surveyor.