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Garden reclaimed from Stoke by Clare pensioner after 63 years of use

Havebury own  most of the land at the rear of Fred Cuthbert's house and he has tended it for 63 years, but they now say they want to build on it. Fred Cuthbert at home in his garden. ANL-140317-141948005

Havebury own most of the land at the rear of Fred Cuthbert's house and he has tended it for 63 years, but they now say they want to build on it. Fred Cuthbert at home in his garden. ANL-140317-141948005

 

For 63 years Fred Cuthbert has grown vegetables on land at the rear of his house in Stoke by Clare - but all that is soon to end after a housing association said they wanted to use it for themselves.

Mr Cuthbert, 90, has been cultivating the land since he moved into the house in Church Park with his late wife in 1951. When he moved in the land and house was council owned, but he has since bought the house.

But on March 7 he received a letter from Havebury Housing Partnership telling him it wants to develop on the majority of the garden. He will be left with just a fraction of it.

Mr Cuthbert, who intends to stay in the house, said: “I know they said when I took it over ‘you can have it until we want it’ but after 63 years I never thought they were going to build on it or take it back.

“I rang them up and said I’ve just bought £120 worth of seeds and potatoes and what not and what have I got to do.

“They said it could be the autumn (when they start using it) so I’ve gone ahead and set my seeds. I hope that I can harvest them.”

Philip Sullivan, Havebury housing’s director of operations, said: “As part of Havebury’s ongoing commitment to meeting the significant local housing need we are keen to make best use of the land which is already in our ownership.

“This helps reduce our operational costs and gives better value for our tenants.

“Several areas of land have been identified as potential development sites, including the area of land in Stoke by Clare adjacent to Mr Cuthbert’s garden.

“Development land in rural areas can be scarce and sometimes expensive, and not always something that Havebury can compete for on the open market.

“Havebury has kept Mr Cuthbert aware of the proposals regarding this land and we will continue to do so throughout the process.”

 

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