Peterborough resident plans prickly protest to stop aviary demolition

A Peterborough man is planning a prickly protest to save his aviary - after Cross Keys Homes said they would be demolishing it tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 4:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 4:50 pm
Barry Bridgewater from Gatenby, Werrington with his budgies in a shed in his back garden. Pictures: David Lowndes

Barry Bridgewater (59) built the aviary - which doubles up as a shed - in the communal garden at the flats where he lives in Gatenby, Werrington, five years ago.

But now the building, which is home to 12 budgies, as well as gardening equipment, is set to be demolished.

However, Barry is determined to save the aviary,- and tomorrow he is planning on dressing as a hedgehog and sitting on the shed to stop it being taken away.

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Barry Bridgewater's budgies in a shed in his back garden.

He said: “I bought my flat from Cross Keys five years ago, and applied to have a shed. I was granted permission, as long as it stays in the boundaries of what is allowed.

“I have spent £5,000 improving the site since then.

“Now Cross Keys have told me they are withdrawing that permission, as it was wrongly granted in the first place.

“I’ll not let them take it down. I’m dressing up as a hedgehog as I know they hibernate under it.

All the residents in the block have signed a letter saying they want to keep it - although a leaseholder has objected.

Barry said; “I don’t understand why they have decided that now it needs to be taken down. It is ludicrous. All the residents in the flats use it.”

Along with the shed, there is also a ‘flight’ to allow the budgies to stretch their wings in the fresh air.
Barry said that taking away the aviary would ‘condemn the budgies to death’ as native birds would attack them.

He said: “Cross Keys have now offered me money, because I’ve spent £5,000 on it. First they offered me £300, and then they offered my £500.

“But they will not be taking this down.”

Barry has been supported by Peterborough MP Paul Bristow, who has called for Cross Keys to reverse their decision.

He said; “A few weeks ago - I went to visit this communal garden in Gatenby. After receiving permission from Cross Keys Homes, Barry has created this beautiful shed area and aviary.

But now, years after giving permission, and three DAYS before Christmas, Cross Keys are going to demolish this area - and do goodness knows what with the birds - because they have found out they wrongly gave permission in the first place.

“All the people living there have signed a letter saying they want to keep it. A leaseholder who rents their flat out to one of the residents has put in a complaint about the shed. They are entitled to do this - but I am sure things can be sorted out with arbitration. I have offered to assist with this.

“For weeks I have tried to make Cross Keys see sense and compromise. But they are set on this heavy handed action.

“At the very least, action like this should have been delayed until the New Year. This is a heartless decision three days before Christmas, which any fair minded period would see as wrong.

“Cross Keys recently ran a campaign called ‘Let’s be kind’. They are failing to live up their own campaign with this action.”

Cross Keys Homes Director of Asset, Housing Needs and Estate Management, Stuart Fort, said: “We know we made a mistake a number of years ago giving permission for this shed to be built on communal land and we deeply apologise for this. “This is a situation that has been going on for some time and we do need to bring it to a resolution. All residents have equal rights to this space and whilst we applaud the work that has taken place on the garden, which will remain in place, unfortunately we cannot allow a personal shed and aviary to take over other residents’ space.

“We do have to consider all our residents’ views and we are doing all we can to be fair to everyone involved.

“This decision follows our impartial complaints process where an independent panel of residents have listened to the complaint and have concluded that Barry’s personal shed needs to be removed. We support this decision as we listen first and foremost to our residents and whilst we know this is extremely difficult for Barry to come to terms with, we will continue to support him as we can.”