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Volunteers who turned a rat-infested tip into a peaceful community garden are told to rip up their plants and gravel over it

  • Gardeners in Hampstead, north London, transformed a fly-tipping spot
  • But Camden council says they must tear it all up or face a £4,600 bill
  • The ‘aggressive’ authority says that the site is needed for local shops

By
Kieran Corcoran


PUBLISHED:

11:22 EST, 16 December 2013

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UPDATED:

12:50 EST, 16 December 2013

A group of amateur gardeners has been told they must tear up a green space they created from an old fly-tipping spot and cover it in gravel.

The local people, who live near Belsize Road in Hampstead, north London, lovingly transformed a spot which had for years hosted an accumulation of rotting, rat-infested waste.

In its place they created a garden which boasts more than 40 different species of plants and flowers.

Urban bliss: The group of gardeners made this space out of a rubbish tip in Hampstead, north London

Urban bliss: The group of gardeners made this space out of a rubbish tip in Hampstead, north London

Diverse: The green space, off Belsize Road, is home to more than 40 different types of plants and flowers

Diverse: The green space, off Belsize Road, is home to more than 40 different types of plants and flowers

But the group has been told by Camden council that it is ‘trespassing’ on public land, and has been told to tear up their lawn and flowerbeds or face a hefty bill.

The council has said that if they do not return the area to its original function, of being a ‘service road’ for nearby shops, they will have to pay £4,600 for the work to be carried out on their behalf.

John Goodman, one of the gardeners, said the council is being ‘aggressive and heavy-handed’ and that he ‘couldn’t understand’ its actions.

Mr Goodman, from Hampstead, said: ‘This is a space that the community has turned from rubble and trash into a lovely looking garden.

‘All across West Hampstead and Kilburn we see eyesores created by fly-tipping.

Before: This photograph shows the ugly state in which the area used to exist, when it was covered in rubbish and infested by rats

Before: This photograph shows the ugly state in which the area used to exist, when it was covered in rubbish and infested by rats

‘It’s a common problem and the council should see this as the embodiment of their supposed eagerness to see more greenery in the borough.

‘But instead the council seem intent on kicking us.’

In response to the challenge from the council, the group launched a campaign to preserve the space, called Save Our Priory Urban Green Space.

They were initially given a deadline of 3 December to destroy the garden, but after collecting 1,000 signatures the council suspended their deadline, and they are now left in limbo.

In a statement released by Camden council, Theo Blackwell, a local councillor, said: ‘The group have not sought permission, and as such it is an unauthorised use of a service road. We have therefore had to act to restore the road back to its intended use.

‘The council is happy to consider requests for worthwhile use on small sites owned by the taxpayer, and have done so before but we can’t gift land to people without due regard for what its purpose is in the first place.’

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