Knotweed leaves Sheffield home unsaleable

Karen Platt, at her home which she can not sell because of the Japanese knotweed
Karen Platt, at her home which she can not sell because of the Japanese knotweed
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A POORLY Sheffield woman who wants to move to a bungalow due to ill health cannot sell her home after Japanese knotweed was discovered in the garden.

The plant, which is classed as an ‘invasive’ species and can cause structural problems to houses, will take three years to treat.

Karen Platt, a gardening author, has been told she cannot put her terraced home on Longfield Road, Crookes, on the market until the weed is ‘eradicated’.

She said: “I decided to put my house on sale in August 2012 only to be told by a valuer that there was Japanese knotweed present.

“I have now had to give up with the sale because estate agents state the knotweed must be treated professionally and eradicated with a five-year plan backed by an insurance guarantee before I can sell.

“Owing to Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors guidelines, and the current refusal of lenders to give a mortgage on properties with knotweed within seven metres of their boundary, I’m stuck.”

Ms Platt said she wants to move from the terraced home where she has lived for 16 years because of family circumstances and due to ill health, meaning she has difficulty climbing stairs.

The knotweed is affecting the neighbouring house, which is privately-rented, and two homes on Loxley View Road, which backs on to Longfield Road.

Treatment for the four homes will cost around £2,000 but take three years to complete.

Hannah Newman, of property company Faux Kin Limited, which owns the house next to Ms Platt, said: “We had no idea the knotweed was there until Ms Platt had her home surveyed. We are keen to get it treated.”

Lee Stewart, one of the Loxley View Road residents affected, said: “The cost of the treatment is not a great expense split between four of us, but it will take three years.”

Property experts believe hundreds of homes across the city could be affected by Japanese knotweed and are warning households to have it treated.

Nick Riddle, of ELR estate agents and chartered surveyors, said: “I’ve come across Japanese knotweed across Sheffield – it’s very prevalent.

“Mortgage lenders are against it and I think property owners with the weed on their land should be legally-bound to have it removed - although they are not at present.”

* Japanese knotweed is a herbaceous perennial plant, native to Asia in Japan, China and Korea.

* The plant has hollow stems with raised nodes, giving it the appearance of bamboo.

* Has shovel-shaped leaves and produced white flowers in September and October.

* Maximum height is three to four metres although it can be much smaller.

* More than £150 million is spent each year around the UK on Japanese knotweed control.

* Japanese knotweed was introduced in Britain in the 19th Century as an ornamental plant.

* The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 states that it is an offence to ‘plant or otherwise cause to grow’ knotweed.

* Visit Environment Agency