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Gardeners’ World

23rd September 2011


Yesterday afternoon I returned to the allegedly derelict garden to hear what Bexley council had to say about it. I arrived early enough to stand on the shed roof to see if I could see the complaining neighbour’s house from nearly six feet above the surface I had photographed the day before. It was totally obscured by trees. (See final photograph.)

I strolled around taking photographs thinking it was a fairy grotto rather than a traditional garden and began to like it. How anyone could consider it derelict beats me. While there I learned about the surveyor’s report which confirms that a fence has strayed towards the victim’s side just as I suspected on my first visit. I asked the owner how long ago it was his neighbour artificially raised the height of his garden by installing decking eighteen inches above the original surface. He replied “soon after he moved in three years ago”. So he bought the house in the full knowledge that the house next door had a non-traditional garden adorned with pots and old kettles for robins’ nests and now he doesn’t like it. Unbelievable.

The council officials turned up on time. A John Waring from Bexley’s Environmental Health Department, a lady from the Housing Department who did nothing but take photographs and the council’s solicitor, Guy Atkins, who said very little. Mr. Waring did the talking. He took the line that the garden would not now be considered “derelict” as it was tidier than when he first saw it in April but he refused to accept that it was much already tidier when he saw it seven weeks ago and took the ‘derelict’ decision. Photographs show it was. He is now going to pursue his victims for “loss of local amenity”.

Presumably keen to find something wrong with the garden at all costs he plans to come back when the leaves have fallen from the trees which currently obscure the view from the complaining neighbour’s house. There is therefore a stay of execution but my view is that Bexley council is intent on taking some sort of action if they possibly can. Meanwhile the householders’ stress, aggravation and lawyer’s bills continue, with Bexley council said to be providing more of the stress than the complaining neighbour.


From roof level no windows can be seen. An attempt to photograph the complaining neighbour’s house by standing on the roof was unsuccessful as it is totally obscured by the tree on the left. There was no point in trying, the photograph would be of nothing but leaves.

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