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'Leave my plants alone' Metropolitan Housing tenant pleads her Wembley estate landlord

PUBLISHED: 17:10 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:10 19 March 2019

Sarwat Abbasi outside the flat where she's planted some contentious shrubs. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Sarwat Abbasi outside the flat where she's planted some contentious shrubs. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Jonathan Goldberg

A keen gardener is accusing her housing association landlords of “butchering” the plants she has cultivated outside her flat for 17 years to help her mental health.

Sarwat Abbasi moved into her flat on the Chalkhill Estate, Wembley, in 1998, and gained permission to grow plants outside her home.

But landlord Metropolitan Thames Valley (MTV) has now told her she’s got to move them and if she doesn’t do it, their officers will.

She said: “I am totally devastated that my landlord Metropolitan Housing, after 17 odd years, is going to butcher my lovely plants and I’m a nobody who can’t fight a multi-million pound corporation.

“After all this time they say it’s their land and I can’t plant. I’m not taking their land, I just put some plants in it to make it look nice.”

A domestic abuse survivor Ms Abbasi said she was told by officers to take up gardening when she moved in to deal with her “severe anxiety and distress”. With no objections for nearly two decades she took that as “implicit consent”.

“The plants are now mature; I raised them from tiny cuttings. They make me feel safe and not so lonely,” she said, adding: “Why are they coming to me now? There are essential repairs not being done like my broken front door, there’s drug dealing and gangs on the estate. These are the areas Metropolitan should be aggressively addressing, not some poor innocent plants. It does not make sense.”

A spokesperson for MTV said a recent inspection had highlighted three neighbours who had built “private gardens” outside their flats, two of whom raised “no objection” to move their plants to their balconies.

He said it impacted “routine maintenance of communal areas”.

He added: “Unauthorised planting can raise potential health and safety risks with regard to toxicity and allergic reactions, particularly for young children and pets. We have offered [Ms Abbasi] a larger space on the nearby allotment for the plants that will not fit on her balcony, so that she can continue to carry out her gardening hobby. In recognition of the effort this will involve, we have also offered to move the plants for her.”

They said they had not received any formal complaints of gang activity adding “alleged criminal activity should be reported directly to the police.”

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