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Anger over new entrance to Mill Hill allotments - through homeowners' back gardens
Neighbours are fighting "grossly unfair" plans to open a new entrance to allotments – in their back gardens.
Homeowners Tanya and Tom Rolfe, of Thornfield Gardens, Mill Hill, were not consulted about plans to turn part of their lawn into an access route.
Barnet Borough Council owns a quarter of their garden – but the couple fear the 38-year lease will have dramatic repercussions on their lives.
Although they tried to purchase the land when they bought their house in 2010, the deal to lease it went through in 2013 without their knowledge.
Under the plans, manure trucks will pass through the narrow space three times a year and 11 allotment holders will have unlimited access to the space.
Mother-of-two Mrs Rolfe said: “It’s mad. They have no heart. For them it’s just a hobby – but we live here. People who don’t live here are dictating what happens to the ones who do.
“It’s a very narrow corridor and it’s unsuitable for what they want to use it for. The access way is very uneven and unsafe to drive down.
“The trucks will be noisy, the manure will smell disgusting and wreck the peace around here.”
A chain link fence will be erected to shield the area from trespassers – but even though the couple vehemently oppose this they have been ordered to shell out £1,000 for it.
They are also against plans to tear down the trees at the end of their garden.
More than 20 people living in the street have signed a petition to call for the council to review the plans and give them a say.
Mr Rolfe, 35, said: “People have trespassed on our gardens several times and we are worried for the safety of our children.
“They’re dealing all the aces. They know there’s nothing we can do to stop it legally because they own the land, but that’s very wrong.”
Householders will not have access to the area themselves unless they pay an annual fee – meaning they will have to cart their wheelie bins through the house when mowing their front lawns.
The previous householder removed the fence which separated the garden from the patch of land as the authority failed to maintain the grassy area.
If the couple and their neighbour, Shahin Bezchi, ever choose to build an extension they could be faced with difficulties as builders may not have permission to use the council’s land.
Mr Bezchi, 41, took it upon himself to erect a wooden gate at the top of the garden to help secure their homes.
He said: “They should have had had the courtesy of telling us, and asking for our views. It’s our lives they’re playing with, and our homes. It’s grossly unfair.”
They are also being supported by Cllr Sury Khatri.
A statement from the council said: “Mr and Mrs Rolfe first asked to buy the allotment access way adjacent to their property in 2010 when they bought their house, but the council has always been clear that it is not for sale and the boundary and access route would be re-instated.
“The land is statutory allotment land and as such it is part of the lease given to the allotments society when it was given it’s ‘independence’ from the Council last year. The allotment society plan to use this strip of land for occasional access to their plots.
“The council has had extensive correspondence and several meetings with the Rolfes about this issue. The most recent meeting was held last week.”
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