Petty policies around communal space are damaging residents’ quality of life – and are targeting everything from benches to Christmas wreaths
P ot plants, garden gnomes and birdbaths are in the firing line of a new war on people simply trying to use or enhance the space outside their homes. Local authorities and housing associations across the UK are increasingly imposing heavy-handed rules banning residents of council estates from gardening, drying laundry or even sitting in the sun on their balconies or outside their front doors.
Last week, residents of the Vanbrugh Park estate in Greenwich, south-east London, where I live, launched a campaign to save our front gardens, after the council sent men to dismantle them, citing fire safety concerns.
One of my neighbours, whose prize-winning flower display previously scooped Best Front Garden in the Greenwich in Bloom awards, was told she must now keep her garden completely clear. Elderly residents who cannot walk to local parks unaided were instructed to give up the small benches that allow them to sit outside in fine weather.