Galashiels' residents who put down homemade driveways in their gardens risk potential eviction
Anxious Galashiels housing tenants who laid down homemade driveways in place of untidy gardens in a bid to tackle a parking nightmare now fear the prospect of possible eviction.
Four residents in Coluter Avenue who replaced unsightly shrubs with gravel driveways have been told by Selkirk-based Eildon Housing to restore the areas.
They have also been ordered to no longer park their cars on the driveways as talks over the dispute continue.
Householder Bethany Hosa said the decision to install her driveway was taken because of a serious lack of parking and disabled parking spaces in the street, on the Melrose Gait estate.
That was a particular concern for Bethany as her two children suffer with autism and ADHD, causing them to have no danger-awareness.
Bethany believes the driveways are a big improvement in terms of safety and how the area looks aesthetically – but Eildon has rejected a retrospective bid to retain them.
That came despite 43 residents in the street, made up of just over 50 properties, signing a petition in support of the work.
However, residents face a worst-case ‘three strikes and you’re out’ scenario if following verbal and written warnings they decided to still park on the driveways.
It’s an outcome all sides want to avoid with hopes that a solution can be found.
Bethany said: “Everyone we spoke to said the driveways were a godsend, singing their praises for how good looking and tidy they are as well as freeing up space for parking.
"They expressed how unhappy they were with the parking situation and how unkempt the hedges were.
"Everyone we spoke to felt we had brought the community together and given a real sense of community spirit.”
Bethany’s next door neighbour Pauline Ward agreed.
She said: “The front of the house belongs to Eildon and it had been unkempt with bushes and dog fouling. It was really unsightly, so I took it on myself to dig up the shrubs, move them across to the side and put down chipstones.
"The parking is really bad up at Coulter Avenue and Mrs Hosa had applied to get a disabled parking bay but was refused. We both have children and have blue badges because of the children and for us to park outside our house was great for the safety of the children.”
Both women had happily parked on their driveways for a year until a couple of months ago when Eildon received a complaint after two other residents also installed similar driveways.
Pauline added: “We have been told by Eildon in no uncertain terms that we can’t park our cars on the driveways we have made ourselves and if we do so we are breaking our tenancy agreement, which could lead to proceedings which obviously we’re not wanting.
“We’re just asking to park where we’ve parked for the last year. We’re not causing any harm. For myself and Beth it’s safe, there's no blind spots, there’s plenty of visibility and we’re maintaining it ourselves and it looks far tidier and presentable.”
Galashiels and district councillor Euan Jardine, who has been supporting the residents in trying to find a solution to the dispute with Eildon Housing, said: “The residents have put in their own driveways and now they have been told they are not allowed the driveways, to park their cars there etc. They have been told that if they park their car on a third warning they will be evicted.
"It’s actually grown because Eildon are now speaking to the council and Persimmon Homes because they are the property developers, and it’s council land as well, possibly with planning applications involved, so it is getting more and more complicated.
“There is concerns over safety, one of them is on a bend, there’s also planning implications from what I’m finding out. There is also a legal issue on the deeds, so it is quite complex.”
A spokesperson for Eildon Housing said: “We are talking to a small number of tenants who have made changes to gardens without our permission.
"As part of their tenancy agreement any changes need to be discussed with us before any work starts.
"This helps us protect all tenants from alterations which could have a negative impact on neighbouring properties. We are working to resolve these issues.”