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Pensioner’s vegetable garden is a health and safety hazard, says trust

PUBLISHED: 12:39 24 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:39 24 July 2018

Jeff Catchpole with his vegetable garden in North Walsham. Pictures: David Bale

Jeff Catchpole with his vegetable garden in North Walsham. Pictures: David Bale

Archant

A pensioner has been told to remove a vegetable garden he created without permission in a communal area by his home because it’s a health and safety hazard.

Jeff Catchpole's vegetable garden in North Walsham. Pictures: David BaleJeff Catchpole's vegetable garden in North Walsham. Pictures: David Bale

Jeff Catchpole, 68, who is disabled, spent hours building the tidy garden outside his flat in Plantation Road, North Walsham. He has gathered 30 signatures on a petition supporting him.

But social landlord Victory Housing Trust has told him that, as his actions fell outside the tenancy agreement, the communal area must be reinstated to its original layout, including replacing the fencing he removed. The trust has instructed contractors to undertake this work, which will be at Mr Catchpole’s expense.

Mr Catchpole, who lives on his own, said: “I’m still shell-shocked. I honestly did not think I was doing anybody any harm. All my neighbours thought I had done a really good job. They thought Victory was just being idiots, to be honest.”

He said he never disputed that the piece of land belonged to Victory.

He added: “I thought what I was doing was improving it, making it nicer.

“And it was good therapy for me. I’ve always been a gardener and it took my mind off my troubles. Ninety per cent of it I did on my knees, as I cannot stand up. I have postural hypertension.”

To create the allotment, Mr Catchpole removed two 6ft fence panels and their respective concrete posts, and cut a third fence panel and post to half its height.

Christine Candlish, trust housing director, said: “He has also created a raised bed which has had the effect of levelling off an existing sloped area, as well as removing a section of knee rail surrounding the parking area, and he is now storing a trailer on this area of land.

“All of these changes have been made on Victory-owned communal land which is publicly accessible. Victory has a responsibility to ensure that such communal areas are safe for everybody, and Mr Catchpole’s alterations have had the effect of creating a number of health and safety hazards, including a dangerous drop which could cause injury.”


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