ANCIENT ramparts bordering a former Basingstoke secondary school are sliding into the back garden of a family’s home, after the county council allegedly carried out ‘unlawful’ work on the land.

Anne-Marie Joy has faced a five-year battle with Hampshire County Council (HCC) over the work to the former Fort Hill School site and said it has resulted in her property decreasing in value by around £75,000.

Now, she claims HCC has agreed to repair the damage it caused by digging up vegetation and trees without permission from Historic England, to avoid a public enquiry into the matter.

However, she said it has refused to accept responsibility for the problems she now faces, with the ramparts slipping into her garden in Hawthorn Way, Winklebury.

The problems all started when Mrs Joy moved into the bungalow in September 2015 with her husband, and she reported a tree hanging over damaging the roof of an extension.

“We asked the county council to cut it back,” she explained, adding: “Their response was to rip everything out.”

As a result, Mrs Joy’s garden became exposed to those using the Fort Hill School playing fields, and the land started sliding down when it rained.

She has since been fighting the council to rectify the damage, but a complaint she submitted was rejected.

The 56-year-old, who works at Aldi supermarket, said two men from HCC came out to re-plant some trees, but as soon as it rained, they were all washed away.

Not giving up, Mrs Joy asked Basingstoke’s MP for help, saying: “I knew something wasn’t right. I got Maria Miller involved, who contacted Historic England, and active ongoing erosion was identified. Historic England said the council didn’t ask permission to rip the trees out, they didn’t ask permission to dig holes and re-plant trees. They also didn’t alert them to a clump of trees that caught fire.

“It’s monumental land and the council had a legal obligation to ask for permission to carry out the work, and they didn’t,” she said.

The grandmother-of-two said HCC has now agreed an essential plan with the government to repair the damage, but has told her this is a “gesture of goodwill” and is refusing to accept any liability to the damage caused to her garden.

She claims there has been a catalogue of mistakes by the council and alleges it has tried to squirm out of taking responsibility.

The mother-of-two said: “Before lockdown we thought about moving. The estate agents came round, and I was honest about the problems. We were told that because the land is live and unstable, no one will want to buy.

“We can’t move, we can’t release equity. This was meant to be our forever home. We bought a bungalow and felt it was safe and secure which was important because I have a problem with my hearing. It was perfect and it’s turned into a nightmare.

“In the winter when it rains the muddy water flows down into drains. We have chased people out of the garden because it’s no longer secure. In the winter when the foliage is gone it’s a constant problem. In the winter when you see the soil running down it can reduce me to tears. It’s a constant reminder.”

Taking HCC to court over the matter isn’t viable because of the costs, leaving Mrs Joy with no option but to accept the financial loss.

She said: “When they said they didn’t own the ramparts and I exposed that they did, they didn’t say sorry, it was just another error uncovered. If they make things as difficult as possible, they hope I will back down.”

The grandmother also questions whether Vivid housing association, which is hoping to develop the site, will be able to build on the land when it is unstable.

Vivid wants to build up to 240 homes, a children’s play area and health facilities on the land.

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans said: "The County Council has recently received approval from Historic England and the Secretary of State to carry out ground works to stabilise one small section of the embankment on the Fort Hill Community School site, which is a protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. I would like to reassure the local community that we will be working closely with Historic England throughout this process and anticipate that work will begin on site in the coming weeks."

The Gazette is waiting for from Historic England.