Housing estate residents told to pay for gardening and parking cars

Residents express shock over charges but Enfield Council claims licensing arrangement has been in place since 2002, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The Avenues Estate, Bush Hill Park
The Avenues Estate, Bush Hill Park

Enfield Council has been accused of making money out of residents over “disgraceful” charges for gardening and parking cars on its estates.

The civic centre recently sent a letter to people living in its housing estates telling them they must have a licence to cultivate or park on land in front of their house if it is owned by the council.

It says most front garden areas on council-built housing estates were treated as communal, not included in tenancies and usually not sold under the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme, adding that the authority is now carrying out “checks to ensure that all land use is properly licenced”.

Residents will need to pay £125 for a single car space, £250 for two spaces, and £150 for a “licence to cultivate”. The council says the three-year licences, which also come with a £30 application or renewal fee, are “to regularise the use of council land adjacent to people’s homes which they do not own and is not part of their tenancy”.

But one tenant who lives in an estate in Bullsmoor, who did not want to be named, described the charges as “absolutely disgraceful” and “just a way for the council to make some money because they are strapped for cash”.

“We got the letter the other day,” she said. “I really couldn’t believe it. It’s just another tax on people. We have always parked in our driveway. We paid for a dropped-down kerb, so we had to have a driveway installed many years ago – and now we have to pay [for a licence].

“They are saying it’s communal ground. It’s like saying I could go around and sit in someone else’s front garden with a picnic blanket.

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“To charge people if they want to plant flowers – I am assuming that is what ‘cultivate’ means – where people have planted flowers and taken care of the land themselves to keep it looking nice; you have now to pay for that.

“ It is absolutely ridiculous. It’s like charging a rent for your front garden. You assume it comes with the house.”

The council says the licensing scheme has been in operation since 2002. But the resident said that she had lived on her estate for 15 years and had never had to pay for a licence before or received any letters about it.

She said there were paths between the gardens on her estate and some people had put small fences up, with many properties bought by residents under Right to Buy. She added: “These people who have bought their property – some people have not got the garden in their deeds, I suppose.”

The resident said she was not aware of any public consultation on the scheme and the letter did not say whether the council would take enforcement action if tenants failed to pay, adding: “Are you going to get fined or be in breach of your tenancy agreement and get evicted? I really don’t know.”

She said: “We are having all these cutbacks and having to pay for extra things like Ulez [Ultra Low Emission Zone], and this is another thing that someone has imposed on us without any public debate […] It’s just for them to make money.”

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “A letter was sent on behalf of the council to residents regarding communal garden areas which are community assets that the council has a duty to protect.

“The main purpose of the licence is to regularise the use of council land adjacent to people’s homes which they do not own and is not part of their tenancy. This is so they do not acquire rights over it which might affect the community and the council’s ability to manage its assets effectively.

“The scheme has been in operation since 2002, and the council will consider enforcement breaches on a case-by-case basis.”

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