Japanese knotweed woes strangle man’s house sale

The knotweed close to Mr Tierneys home
The knotweed close to Mr Tierneys home
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A homeowner says he is struggling to sell his house – because of a scourge of invasive Japanese knotweed.

When Mark Tierney, 41, moved out of his Hornsey Avenue home near Squires Gate Station, he hoped the move would bump the building up on the property ladder.

It makes the house unsellable. I was trying to sell it for ages and I thought it would sell better if I moved, but I didn’t know about the knotweed problem at the time

Instead he found himself forking out thousands in council tax and bills covering the empty house, as he discovered an infestation of Japanese knotweed creeping onto empty land 80 metres away from Squires Gate railway station.

Japanese knotweed’s rapid growth and relentless spread easily overwhelms other plants.

Mr Tierney said: “It makes the house unsellable. I was trying to sell it for ages and I thought it would sell better if I moved, but I didn’t know about the knotweed problem at the time. I had a sale fall through and I called up to see why, and they said it was because of the Japanese knotweed.

“Since then I have found out that Network Rail is treating it – but unfortunately that’s not enough for people looking to spend £90,000 on a new house.”

Since moving to the area in December, Mr Tierney has seen two sales fall through on the property, which is classed as St Annes, both citing the knotweed as the reason why.

He said: “That’s six months wasted.

“I’m basically stuck until the knotweed is gone.

“Anybody else living on that land who wants to sell their house will find themselves with the same problem.

“If you’re looking to buy a house, you’re not going to buy it if you can’t be reassured that it’s not going to be destroyed by a plant.”

Japanese knotweed was featured in The Gazette in July, when people living in Woodland Grove, Blackpool, claimed the invasive shrub was growing on derelict land near their homes. Web developer Mr Tierney, who now lives on Myrtle Avenue, said: “It’s hit me hard financially because I have had two sales fall through.

“Network Rail have told me they are sorting it out – but without an official plan of action there’s not much we can do.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We have treated the Japanese knotweed at the location and will continue to do so in line with Natural England guidelines.

“The treatment of Japanese knotweed can take a while to take effect due to the plant’s complex root structure.

“Network Rail takes its commitment to its neighbours and the environment very seriously and takes action to treat invasive plant species on or around its land.”