'No garden for two years' as Huddersfield residents demand £10k compensation in garden access row

Angry residents are embroiled in a row with Network Rail over access to their gardens during preparation work for a huge rail improvement scheme.

Fourteen residents in Glenfield Avenue at Deighton, Huddersfield, have signed a petition calling for Network Rail workers to stay out of their gardens unless a compensation payment of £10,000 can be agreed.

Network Rail, which owns and manages the railway infrastructure, needs access to the trackside gardens to cut back vegetation ahead of a major scheme to update Deighton Station. Gardens are due to be cut away and reinstated once the rail upgrade work has been completed, according to householders.

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Resident Terry Binns says residents are not happy because the engineering works is set to go on for around two years and will mean people won't be able to enjoy their gardens. He and other believe they won't be properly and fairly compensated.

Terry, a keen gardener, says he will temporarily lose around a quarter of his garden which he has spent around 40 years tending and improving. He says one resident was offered £3,000 in compensation which Terry described as 'ridiculous'. He says it works out at about £4 a day.

Terry, a retired Yorkshire Water technician, said: "Nobody has come to us to talk about compensation and there is a rumour going round of an offer for £3,000. No-one has come to me and said what it is. We are not talking a couple of months' work - it's over two years that we won't have a garden. They say two years but it could be three because I think they are already behind."

Terry supports the aims of the rail improvement scheme but says the lives of his family will be badly affected if he cannot enjoy his garden due to noise and dust during the excavation process.

"A big thing for us is socialising in the garden with our eight grandchildren. They play and they like to watch trains go by." Terry says residents are feeling frustrated by what they see as a lack of communication from Network Rail.

The petition calls on Network Rail to agree to £10,000 compensation to each owner and tenant and says: "All owners and tenants are in agreement that there will be no access to any of the gardens unless the sum of £10,000 is paid to each owner and tenant of Glenfield Avenue for the period of two years."

Network Rail has reminded residents that it needs access to gardens in order to fell trees and if access is denied it may take enforcement action. An incident on April 30 saw a tree felling contractor working for Network Rail 'turned away' from one property in Glenfield Avenue.

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In a letter to residents dated May 10, Network Rail said it understood the contractor was denied access "on the basis of monies being requested by the residents of Glenfield Avenue. Please note that the Article 34 Temporary Possession notice in place gives Network Rail and their contractors the legal right to carry out these works."

Network Rail is warning residents that they may lose money if they stop workers entering their gardens. The letter added: "If access is again impeded, then Network Rail would be forced to exercise its powers under the Order to gain access through the means of enforcement, the cost of which would be deducted from any claim for compensation you may have."

The letter added: "These works are a vital part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade Project and must be allowed to continue without further disruption. As you will be aware, under the Order, affected parties are entitled to compensation if they have a legal interest in the land to compensate the parties for their losses.

"However, this must be evidenced and proven as well as being equivalent to the loss incurred. We are keen to discuss this with you to arrive at a mutually agreeable and evidenced compensation figure."

In a statement, Gareth Hope, Sponsor for Transpennine Route Upgrade, told YorkshireLive: "Deighton Station is one of many stations along the Transpennine Route that is set to be upgraded over the coming years, including the construction of a new fully accessible footbridge with lifts, a drop-off area, longer platforms and an additional two tracks, allowing faster trains to overtake slower ones.

"To facilitate these upgrades, engineers need to strengthen the embankment on either side of the railway, which means that it’s necessary for us to access third party land in some areas. The approvals for this were agreed through the Huddersfield to Westtown (Dewsbury) Transport and Works Act Order that was submitted and approved, prior to work commencing.

"Communities are at the heart of our upgrades and played a big role when developing our sustainability strategy. To date, the project has employed over 270 apprentices, provided over 11,000 hours of volunteering and engaged with more than 42,000 local young people along the route”.

"We’re currently working closely with local groups and residents to ensure that any impact from these key upgrades is being kept to a minimum."