GARDENERS who use a communal greenhouse to grow fruit and veg have been told they must tear it down because of health and safety rules.

Tenantss living in flats in Bardfield, Vange, say they are stunned by the dcision by St George’s Community Housing, which manages Basildon Council’s housing stock.

Andre Le Brise, 57, who lives in the flats and tends to the crops in the greenhouse, said: “When we moved here it was worse than a jungle.

“I can’t believe we’ve been told to take it down, it’s health and safety gone mad.

“That greenhouse is all some of us have got.”

Mr Le Brise said the residents in the block banded together to put up the greenhouse in the flats’ communal area six years ago.

They began growing vegetables and fruit, planted fruit trees, bought a lawnmower to regularly cut the grass and put in a trampoline on which youngsters could play.

Ever since, the greenhouse has been tended to by residents, giving elderly and disabled people living there something to enjoy.

But now they have been told the greenhouse must go.

In a letter Julie Grant, Pitsea area housing officer for St George’s Community Housing, said the greenhouse must go or it will be torn down.

The letter offers no explanation, but Mr Le Brise said when he phoned Basildon Council, staff told him the move came after a resident elsewhere in the district was injured after falling from the roof of a shed.

Mr Le Brise said: “I can’t understand it.

“The greenhouse is not in anybody’s way and it’s not like we climb on to the roof.

“All we want to do is keep this area nice.

“London councils encourage people to grow fruit and veg, but we are being punished.”

Mr Le Brise said he, along with his neighbours, is urging St George’s to reconsider.

Mandy Skeat, St George’s area housing services manager, refused to say what the risks were, but did say the organisation would review the situation.

In a statement, she said: “We contacted residents because of concerns over two items in this communal area, which could potentially present a risk to residents.

“We asked for both to be removed.

“Following discussions with the residents concerned, we are reviewing the situation and may consider other options.”