Harpenden couple return from holiday to find garden devastated

A DEVASTATED couple returned from holiday this week to find their garden wall had been demolished and a new fence installed one metre inside the boundary of their property.

In addition two trees in the garden of their home in Station Road, Harpenden, had been cut down.

The garden of the property owned by Mike Gibb and his wife Susan Bates backs on to a building yard in Cowper Road which is the subject of two planning applications, one for demolition of building in the yard and the other for the construction of two new five-bedroomed houses.

The yard has been there for at least a century and the couple have lived in their house for 20 years with no dispute about the boundary.

But last year the owner of the yard told the couple that he owned part of their garden and since then there has been a dispute about the boundary.

Mike pointed out that by taking part of their garden, the yard was effectively squared off making it far easier to redevelop.

Before going on holiday, Mike checked with St Albans council that no decision would be taken on either application from Greenways Properties before they returned and was assured that it would not.

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But they arrived home on Tuesday to find the devastation in their garden and the loss of the trees which had acted as a screen to the builders yard.

The couple, like a number of their neighbours, had objected to the planning application for the yard and had also pointed out that in their specific case there was a boundary dispute.

Mike, who said their daughter had told them what was happening while they were away, spoke of his anger: “The demolition was done last Thursday and this fence was built. The solicitors acting for Greenways sent a letter on Friday to our house saying they were going to restore the boundary to what it should be.”

He added: “We had no way of dealing with it but we are going to fight it. We are also contacting the police because this is a criminal action.”

A spokesperson for the district council said they were aware of the situation and were looking into the matter.

But the agent for Greenways Properties, which is based in Dunstable, declined to make any comment this week.