A GREEN-FINGERED gran has slammed developers for forcing her to pull up a garden she has tended for 48 years.
Gill Ashton, 74, said the garden behind her Solihull, Birmingham home was like the Chelsea Flower Show before she was ordered to uproot hundreds of plants.
Developers sent Gill a letter stating she had to "clear" the walkway and balcony behind her house, a space she had nurtured into a flourishing garden for early half a century.
Gill received the letter on behalf of developers bulldozing homes and shops in her Solihull neighbourhood to make way for a new residential and retail complex.
The major development at St John's Way was approved by Solihull Council last year, with all residents on Gill's road receiving similar letters.
Gill said: "My balcony was full of flowers, they said I had to remove everything off the balcony.
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"I'd spent a fortune on it, I'd had them there for forty-odd years."
The grandma-of-five added: "There were hundreds of plants, there were things that had been there for years.
"Acers, Hostas, lots of bedding plants, a lot of ceramic pots. It was part of my life."
"It was like a tropical garden. They said we had no ownership of the balcony."
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A removal letter which Mercia Real Estate sent to residents stated that they had a "limited right" to use their walkways.
Gill said she also received a visit from a company acting on behalf of the developers, who told her to clear her walkway.
Other residents said they complied with the letter, which they received in 2020.
But many added that nothing has happened since the removal order, and they are now unsure why they were instructed to clear their walkways and balconies.
Even those in favour of the new complex are now fuming at poor communication by developers and council bosses.
Mercia Real Estate said that the complex will provide "new employment opportunities, shopping, entertainment and new modern places to live".
It added that it has given concerned residents "direct lines of communication".
But Gill said she was forced to donate or get rid of her beloved plants, including acers, hanging baskets and bedding plants.
The green paradise she tended is now an bleak, empty walkway.
Her son Phil Collins said: "She doesn't drive, she has COPD, they said she had to shift them.
"People used to compliment her on her pots and hanging baskets, it was like the Chelsea Flower show."
He added the family had to come at the height of the coronavirus lockdown to remove all of the plants so they could be donated or re-homed.
Mercia Real Estate declined to comment on the removal of items from walkways, saying it was a private matter.
It added that parties are welcome to discuss their concerns with Mercia Real Estate.
A spokesperson for Solihull Council said: “Any planning authority is required to notify residents or tenants of any applications affecting their properties.
"With regards to this application, the Council has also kept residents and tenants informed of all amendments to the application, and considered the objections raised to the scheme.
“The Council advised in the committee report and at the Planning Committee meeting that anything relating to ownership is a private matter between the developer, tenants and homeowners.
"The Council and the planning system cannot and does not get involved in ownership issues."
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New planning rules introduced in 2022 give residents "more involvement in local development".
New developments need to be keeping with the local area and cannot be built on greenfield sites, although residents should always check with their local authority to find out their rights.
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