Families in fight to save Dewsbury flats' communal gardens

Residents of Dewsbury Road flats are up in arms over a council planning application to build new houses on their beloved communal garden.

Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 2:17 pm
Mohamad's son, Adam, in the communal garden

Mohamad Issa and many of his fellow residents at 2-16 Dewsbury Road are objecting to plans by Luton Borough Council to build two three-bedroom houses at the bottom of their communal garden, which contains children’s play toys, and their cherished cherry tree –to be spared if permission is granted.

The application, which would halve the garden in size, also describes plans to erect 12 two-bedroom and four one-bedroom flats to the rear of 247-277 Birdsfoot Lane, building on fields beyond the communal garden, as well as an old garage site, and a parking site near the Co-operative Food Convenience Store, 76-78, Birdsfoot Lane.

However, residents are frantically leafleting the area to drum up support for objections, and claim they are not going down without a fight.

Mohamad's sign.

Mohamad, 28, who lives with his wife, Maria, 24, and their son, Adam, one, claims: “This is going to impact all of us hugely!

“I’ve just hung a sign from my living room window saying, ‘respect our privacy!’ We need protecting from this monstrous build.

“First thing in the morning, my son grabs my arm and says he wants to go outside. But when the building work starts he’s going to be scared of the loud machines. Our neighbours have dogs and cats too- they won’t want to go out.

“My living room and kitchen will also be overshadowed - why are they squeezing these two houses into our garden?”

Mohamad's sign.

Another resident of Dewsbury Road flats, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed: “I have a little balcony overlooking the fields beyond the flats, but these houses are going to completely block the view.

“They will be built side on from us, but I’m sure they will still have windows at the side - an invasion of our privacy!

“There’s an old lady living with dementia who has been here for many years - the change won’t do her any good.

“The garden will be half its size and there are so many birds here that will be scared off by the noise and building work is taking place near a community nature reserve, too!”

The residents also claim that removing parking spaces and adding new properties will create congestion issues on Birdsfoot Lane, as lorries deliver goods to the local Co-operative and parents use it as parking for the school run.

The resident added: “The letter we were delivered by the council says that although we can object to dust and fumes while the building is taking place, we can’t object to noise and disturbance - how is that fair? There are people here who work nightshifts!

“We received the letter notifying us of the application at the end of November and the council have given us until December 21 to put our applications in. But that’s no good - it’s Christmas time and everyone is stressed trying to prepare for the holiday.”

A Co-operative spokesman said: “I have spoken to my estates team and the planning application is not something we have opposed.”

Conservative councillor, Michael Garrett, of Ickneild Ward, said: “There are two sides to this. We all know there is a shortage of housing, there is no doubt about that. But as a councillor for Ickneild Ward, I must look after the residents - they are my priority.

“These gardens have been enjoyed by flat holders for many years and there is not enough green space in Luton.

“I am prepared to speak to the planning department when the issue goes to committee, which will probably be in early February. However, if any residents would like to organise a public meeting with me before then, they can contact me on: 01582 575630.”

A Luton Borough Council spokesperson, said: “As part of our programme to build affordable homes for local people who need them, we identified this disused garage site that is prone to anti-social behaviour and was an old building depot.

“Our proposals will mean 16 new well designed attractive homes for local families and protect the nearby nature reserve.

“All planning applications are processed by planning authority officers in an open and transparent manner and scrupulously assessed against the relevant legislation, local plans and other material planning considerations relevant to the making of a planning decision.

“Members of the public and interested parties have been invited to comment on all aspects of the application and their observations are recorded and form part of the procedure. At the end of this consultation period planning staff will collate and review all comments before the application passes to the development control committee for its consideration.”

The planning application reference is: 16/01892/FUL.