“A ‘bomb site’ is attached to my semi” says Harborough woman

Susan Bird has been living next door to this bomb site for over six years in Burton Overy.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180828-102648005
Susan Bird has been living next door to this bomb site for over six years in Burton Overy.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180828-102648005

They could be a delightful pair of semi-detached cottages in the Harborough countryside.

But life for Susan Bird in the right-hand semi has become a “nightmare “ she says - because the owner of the left-hand semi has knocked out the front and back walls and left it derelict.

That was around six years ago says artist and art tutor Susan, and it’s been a “nightmare” ever since.

“The house next door has been described as a bomb site” she said. “And the dereliction has all but destroyed the looks, value, sense of safety and enjoyment of my own home.”

“I’ve had rats, mice, red dust from building work, damp and hairline cracks in my walls.

“I really don’t know how this has been allowed to continue for so long.”

When Susan and her late husband Edward Bird bought the cottage in 1998, both houses, in the countryside near Burton Overy, were occupied.

But her neighbour, a former farm worker and postman, moved out in around 2000, and the cottage was bought by the owners of nearby Grange Farm, Burton Overy in 2005.

In 2006 the new owners applied for planning permission for a large extension to the front, side and rear of their cottage. Planning permission was granted by Harborough District Council.

The new owners laid the foundations of the extension, and later knocked out the front and back walls of the cottage – and then work ceased.

“I can’t believe the council has allowed a well-built 1930s home to disintegrate in this way” said Susan. “I feel I’m living in a 365-day a year state of emergency here.”

Susan now has CCTV around her house and metal security screens on her front windows.

“And apart from all the problems it’s caused me, it’s made a shell of a perfectly good house that someone could be living in.”

So could Susan move somewhere else?”

“It’s not off my radar” she said. “But it took Ed and me 15 years to find this lovely property. I feel I’m connected to the landscape here.”

The owner of the left hand semi is local farmer David Holman.

He told the Mail: “I appreciate it’s not ideal, but I haven’t got the time and money to finish the house at the moment.

“I wish that wasn’t the case. I would sooner it was done and someone was living in it.

“The site is secure and relatively tidy and I do what I can to keep Sue happy.”