Proposed changes to Northampton communal gardens leads to 'rowdy residents' meeting'

Councillor Janice Duffy described the residents meeting as "rowdy"
Councillor Janice Duffy described the residents meeting as "rowdy"

Proposals to "claw back and fence off" communal garden areas in Northampton are worrying residents.

As part of its ongoing investment programme in Thorplands, Northampton Partnership Homes (which manages council houses) wrote to Farm Field Court tenants to say they were looking at replacing sheds, trees and fencing, make changes to garden paths and create a landscaped area with a communal lawn.

The proposals affects Farm Field Court tenants

The proposals affects Farm Field Court tenants

For some of the residents who have invested their time and money into the gardens, the plans mean their treasured space - albeit communal - could be permanently changed.

"We have maintained the garden for 10 years," said Terry White, secretary of the Thorplands Residents Association.

"Over the years I have spent between £8,000-£9,000 on it and I've entered it into the Northampton In Bloom competition."

But of greater concern to Mr White is the effect any changes will have on the existing alterations made to his flat and garden, which made it wheelchair accessible.

He is worried installing a fence with no gate at the bottom of his garden will leave his wife marooned in the flat.

NPH's chief executive, Mike Kay, explained the proposals were under consideration and that nothing was final at this stage, and that his organisation would consider cases individually.

He said: “We’ve been talking with residents across Thorplands since last autumn about how we can improve council homes in the area and invest in the local community.

"We’ve organised events with local residents, site visits for councillors as well as door knocking, surveys and visiting people at home to hear about what they would like to see.

"We manage 54 blocks of flats in Thorplands. Most residents have access to shared gardens but there are a small amount of communal gardens that are not accessible to everyone.

"This particularly affects residents who live on the top floors. We want everyone to have an equal opportunity to enjoy and access their communal garden. This is why we are looking to improve the access arrangements.

"While we recognise a small number of residents have tended and planted in these areas for their own enjoyment, this has been done without formal agreement.

"We want to ensure these spaces are available for all current and future residents to enjoy. We are considering each situation individually in relation to the impact on other residents, future maintenance and the structure of the buildings.

"As part of our planned improvement works in Thorplands we are also looking to add better storage facilities such as new sheds, replace fencing, improve security and improve garden paths.

"We are in the process of removing a number of overgrown trees which will offer more light in the daytime.”

Councillor Janice Duffy (Labour, Talavera ward) said she and fellow ward councillor Dennis Meredith (Lib Dems, Talavera) will meet with NPH to find out why they were not made aware of the proposals.

"There was a really rowdy residents' meeting," said Cllr Duffy.

"It seems the gardens, which were given to the tenants, are being clawed back and fenced off.

“That’s going to mean trees, plants and children’s trampolines will be removed."

“People have spent their money and their time cultivating and developing their gardens," she added.

“Dennis Meredith and I have called for a meeting with NPH to find out why we weren’t informed of this.

“We’ll both be trying to work in the best interests of the tenants.”