They are drab slabs of grass that border homes in suburban areas.

But any community-minded resident wanting to transform a verge into a flowerbed will now have to pay an annual fee of £30 before a bulb is even planted.

Brighton and Hove City Council claims a number of people have approached it about cultivating green spaces next to their properties.

But rather than letting locals plant flowers to improve their areas without supervision, the local authority says it has a duty to ensure the areas are safe for everyone.

But critics claim the licence, which will be needed for those who “want to change the design” of the grassy areas, is “bureaucracy gone mad”.

Fine appeal

Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett said: “It’s a ludicrous idea. “People love the grass verges. It brings a bit of countryside to suburban areas.

“Instead of worrying about people making grass verges look nicer maybe the council should think about making it city-wide to fine people to park on them.”

A council spokeswoman said alterations allowed by law include adding flowerbeds or small shrubs.

However, paving over green spaces or adding large obstructions will not be permitted.

The local authority said the aim is to cover the cost of its staff checking sites and administering licences, and no licence was needed for people who wanted to mow the verge between its regular trims.

'Danger to traffic'

Exact details are currently being drafted but The Argus understands if work is carried out without a licence then the householder could be ordered to restore it back to a verge.

Paul Skelly, of Brighton and Hove City In Bloom, said: “The council will need to ensure the proposed cultivation is not a danger to traffic.

“I doubt if there will be many such applications but I would want to be assured that if someone planted a few bulbs under a tree outside their house they would not be charged £30.”

Conservative councillor Ken Norman, who is a judge for the Royal Chelsea Flower Show, said: “I can see a lot of problems with it, not least when they come round to mow the verges.”

Talking point: To what extent should communities pay to plant verges, or should it be seen as community spirited? Share your views by commenting below or write to the letters editor or email

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