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Bristol Grandmother Won't Surrender Garden To Authorities Even For £100,000

Bristol Grandmother Won't Surrender Garden To Authorities Even For £100,000

A 97-year-old woman is locked in a battle over her front garden - which she has refused to sell even for £100,000 ($139,000).

Pensioner Dolly Burton's house (where she's lived for 50 years) is owned by Bristol City Council, and the grandmother has been offered a 'five-figure sum' by developers and the local council to give up two metres, so a development of 49 houses can go ahead. They want to widen the road in front of her house to create a public highway.

Ms Burton told the BBC: "They can offer me £100,000 and I still wouldn't budge. The way they wanted it, they'd take most of the garden and it would be awful if I had no front garden."

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

Councillor Paul Smith, cabinet member for housing, said she was 'completely within her rights to refuse' the offer.

Mr Smith said: "She is a council tenant, it is council-owned land, but the rules are such that the council can't take away part of somebody's tenancy without their agreement. If we can't use that strip of garden then we'll have to work with the existing access."

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Work on the development is due to begin this year and the complex is expected to be ready in autumn 2019, including a mix of family homes and apartments accommodating around 200 people.

Ms Burton's granddaughter, Eleanor Harris, 53, said: "They came round about a year before, saying they were just looking for access.

Ms Burton's garden, the cause of the conflict. Credit: SWNS
Ms Burton's garden, the cause of the conflict. Credit: SWNS

"According to the plans, getting planning permission to build is fine. But then they have got Highways saying the only way we will allow occupation is to create a public highway.

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"They have gone about it completely the wrong way. They have not consulted my Nan. When I saw the planning application I put in a note saying, 'You won't get access to Nan's land.'

"They have offered her £10,000 or a house somewhere else. They've offered to landscape the garden, and to give her a parking space."

Shopkeeper Eleanor, who works in Bath, Somerset added: "We have not mentioned money to Nan. It's my Nan's house, as far as I'm concerned.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

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"Her garden is what keeps her going, she goes out every day. She feeds the animals that come into the garden, she buys three loaves of bread especially for them. The whole thing about it stinks."

Eleanor said her grandmother would be left with three feet of land in front of her garage, while half the grass would be taken away up to the neighbouring house.

The family put in a Right to Buy bid in January - which gives secure tenants of councils and some housing associations the legal right to buy - but Ms Harris said Bristol City Council have put in a clause reserving their right to the front garden.

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Sally Gilbert, development director for United Communities Housing Association said: "We have been doing some early work to clear vegetation.

"We are looking at the possibility of it being an unadopted road which will make it more expensive for everyone in terms of service charges.

"Dolly was the first person that we went to see when we first looked at the site. I'm really sorry to hear that Eleanor Harris feels she was not consulted. When things started to move forward I went to Bath to meet Eleanor.

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"We had a conversation about why we needed the access we did and why Highways were insistent about the extra two metres. Residents would have to pay a service charge on an unadopted road."

She continued: "Bristol City Council are working with us, they are doing everything they possibly can to help. I can see absolutely no reason why it wouldn't go ahead. We will continue with the development as an unadopted road.

"The people that live there are going to be neighbours of Dolly, we would like her to be positive about that. We want her on the journey with us."

Featured Image Credit: BBC News

Topics: UK News, Housing, Bristol

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Ronan O'Shea

Ronan J O'Shea is a freelance journalist from London who has written for titles including LADbible, Headspace, The Independent, National Geographic Traveller and New York Post. Contact him at [email protected]