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I am trying to find out if anyone in the Gardening community is backing Jean Bailey who has been threatened with losing her beautiful garden that she has worked so hard on since her husband died. it is a haven for wildlife too.  But the council say part of it is on 'green belt' land and she has to remove it!!!  has anyone else out  there heard about this (it was in last Saturday's Daily Mail).  Surely Monty Don, Carol Klein, Alan Titchmarsh etc. could get behind her and save this garden.  Feedback appreciated.  thanks.

Gardening Grandma

I suppose the thing to do, then, is to write to them personally and ask them to do so. The publicity involved in a garden visit from one of them or from GW would surely help. Personally, I think this is a shocking thing, because all she has done is to make the area more wildlife-friendly. She hasn't built anything on the land except a pond, as far as I know. I would be willing to write to the council and protest on a personal level, if someone posted the address to contact. I am sure others would be, too. I am wondering whether she could aproach her local MP, but perhaps she has already done so. I remember from my days in the civil service that an MP's letter made people jump to attention. 

Yes, I will do that when I've worked out how to contact them personally (not had much luck so far).  But i have just googled Staffordshire ~County Council and there's a Contact Us to click on their website, which I did.  It brings up a normal page to e-mail on and I've said my piece to them, so go for it!!


Yes the local MP is also a good idea, but that;s up to her really eh?


This is the story -for those who haven't seen it

Sorry to say that I have no sympathy whatsoever-this story is heavily weighted to show the council in a bad light whereas we get a sad picture of a lady who claims all innocence of planning laws  and when she gets found out goes running to the papers with this story and pulls out "the I would rather go to prison line"

Planning laws are there to protect others in a lot of cases-councils are not always the bad guys and do not take decisions like this lightly

That is how I always see these stories-there are two sides

Gardening Grandma

Personally, I think a letter in black and white is better than an email, which may never reach the person it is intended for, but be read by a clerk and forgotten. A letter to the ,local newspaper is also a weapon, since it provides bad publicity. I'm in sympathy with this lady; I'd be indignant if I could not cultivate my own garden as I pleased.



Sorry to sat

ysotongeoff I do not agree with you.  We know planning laws are there for a reason, but in this case I feel they are going OTT.  In this case there has been no harm done and on the contrary there will be 'harm' done when it is returned to it's boggy state, plus the costs all round.  It is just a lot of jobsworth rubbish!!


But you dont know that-as for thinking that people who present Gardeners World would have any wish to get involved in a planning dispute is just being unrealistic-to what end?

This is a matter for the person concerned and the council-if she wishes to appeal then let her do that-but running to the newspaper does her no favours

Gardening Grandma

i have to agree, Snowdrop. This could have been ignored with no harm done to anyone and some gpood done to the appearnace of the area and the amenities for wildlife.

Well I think 'running to the papers' has done her a favour, as people are aware of the situation now and will be backing her up against the council jobsworths.  This is more than a planning dispute, and the sad fact about society today, is that people don't want to get involved and help others, especially those that are being treated unfairly.  Also in the article it mentions that the extra land was included in the sale!!


Council officials are not jobsworth-they are people who have a job to do-I expect some of your neighbours are employed by the council-would you describe them in that manner?

Before rushing to judgement you need to be in full possession of all the facts-and again we really have only one side.

You do not know she is being treated unfairly-you only know what you have read from a newspaper article.


Having recently watched 'The Planners' I have to agree with you Snowdrop re 'jobsworth'.  It is their 'power', that goes to some of these bods heads, that allows them to make these ridiculous decisions,,just because they can.  We hear about this type of foolishness all too often. The lady in quesion has built nothing, only cultivated a field which, unless I am mistaken, belongs to her.  She should be given a medal!

Although I feel sorry for the lady if she has in fact inadvertently done something which is against planning regulations, it's still necessary to comply with whatever is the law in this regard.  There's a saying something along the lines of "ignorance of the law is no excuse" and I suppose this applies here.  Just because you own land - however little - it doesn't always mean that you can do just what you want with it.  I agree that little or no harm seems to have been done in this case, but her actions could however create a precedent, which her local council should take seriously - otherwise they may well find that other landowners do the same, using this precedent to back up their case.  

And before you know it there will be mini allotments with portable sheds on. If it's a field it should need planning permission for change of use.
Gardening Grandma

One still has to ask what harm she has done. She has built nothing. A farmer could well install a pond, expecially if it helps with drainage, because this is simply caring for the land and using good husbandry. 

I agree that council officials are people with a job to do, but we have probably all experienced bureaucracy at work - it is slow and inflexible. Regulations should be applied with sensitivity and respect for people as individuals,surely. There is also a possibility that the regulations should be changed if they lead to actions such as this, and this is ulikely to happen unless there is public pressure for it to happen.

I do think that most people find this decision puzzling and foolish. If it is against common sense, then people have the right to question it and to protest, in my view.


From what I understand, had it not been for new purchasers wanting an extra piece of land, this lady's lovely transformation would never have come to light.  We all know about rules and regulations but common sense must also prevail.  Power to the OAP I say.



From a quick scan of what's happened I think that some responsibility may lie with the solicitors who acted for the people who bought the land - if this land had an Agricultural Restriction on it then this should have been brought to the purchasers' attention. It should've shown up in the Searches at the very least.


Is she prohibited from developing her land ? did she develop land adjacent to hers that is owned by the Council ?



As I understand it the land in question that was bought and added to the garden was previously part of a field and as such it will have been part of a Registered Agricultural Holding.  To use it for anything other than agriculture will be in breach of planning regulations - this should have been made clear to the purchasers by their solicitor when handling the purchase.  They could then have applied for permission for Change of Use to  Residential - I think  that's the appropriate classification.  It is quite simple but it requires a fee.  Sometimes people don't bother and think it doesn't matter.  This proves that it does.

People would be up in arms if a farmer built a house on a field without planning permission - I'm afraid it's the same thing.  

This has happened in the past and the house has been demolished.


Gardening Grandma

Good to see you back on the forum, Dovefromabove!!! You make an excellent point - it would be interesting to know what she was told by her solicitor and whether she has grounds for compensation from him.

Snowdrop, I should make it clear that I was agreeing with you, not with Geoff. He and I must have posted at much the same time.

I did read the newspaper report and I think it said that she had bought an extra ten feet of agricultural land to add to her garden, Derek.if I did that, I don't think it would occur to me that growing things and creating a pond to collect the water already present in agricultural land was in any way forbidden.