A disabled woman who is the last resident on a street being demolished to make way for £250m roadworks says she has been made a prisoner in her own home by students who are using the road as a free car park.
Gail Roberts, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has been in a battle with National Highways over the sale of her house next to Markeaton Island in Derby for ten years.
The 64-year-old says she barely leaves the home she has lived in since 2011 as a result of the development plan, which means she has lost not only her neighbours, but ‘cannot leave or enter her driveway due to the influx of students.’
Even though the house sits in a controlled parking zone, she claims students are parking in the area because there are no other residents.
Earlier this year Mrs Roberts finally agreed to accept an offer of £475,000 on her house but despite going to 92 viewings in the last five years she has been unable to find an affordable property that suits her disability needs.
Gail Roberts who suffers from multiple sclerosis and has been in a battle with National Highways
Aerial shot with the home of Gail Roberts (circled in red) on the road next to A38 Markeaton Island in Derby
The A38 with Gail’s house on the left circled – even though the house sits in a controlled parking zone, she claims students are parking in the area because there are no other residents
Most residents on her street jumped at the Government offer of market value plus 10 per cent compensation
Mrs Roberts barely leaves the home she has lived in since 2011 as a result of the development plan, which means she has lost not only her neighbours, but cannot leave or enter her driveway due to the influx of students
The initial proposals for a revamp of the A38 were first made in the 1990s, but never went ahead until 2013.
That year the first phase of their long-term road renovation plan was completed with a £4m project to widened the road.
Then in 2019 the Government signed off an order that meant National Highways were legally obliged to purchase residents’ homes so the project could go ahead.
Most jumped at the Government offer as residents were given the market value plus 10 per cent compensation.
But later that year the project had to be paused again when an environmental group took National Highways to court over carbon emissions.
However the courts soon ruled against the environmental group and the project continued.
Earlier this year Mrs Roberts had a MS relapse and finally agreed to accept an offer of £475,000. However despite going to 92 house viewings in the last five years she has been unable to find a home and is now the only house of a street of 15 properties in her access only road.
‘Usually you can’t get into the street for the cars’, the mother-of-one said. ‘I’m the only [person] living on this street and we’ve only got one car but we can’t get on the drive.
‘All I want to do is get in my own house, nine times out of ten I can’t. If it’s on a Monday or Tuesday you can’t get in because of the student cars.
‘They park across my drive. It’s not just a one off, it happens all the time. I was stuck in the house. I had to drive up the pavement to get out when someone moved.
Earlier this year Mrs Roberts had a MS relapse and finally agreed to accept an offer of £475,000
However despite going to 92 house viewings in the last five years she has been unable to find a home and is now the only house of a street of 15 properties in her access only road
She is the last resident standing on a street that is set to disappear in a £250m road renovation plan
‘It’s caused a parking crisis. When it was lived in, people had their own cars. But now we’ve got students everywhere. As more and more people have moved out, they’ve taken it over.
‘It sometimes shocks me when I go outside and I realise what a dump I live in now’.
She revealed her next-door neighbour was the last person to leave the street, around June of this year, as National Highways began buying up properties for the development plans to go ahead.
‘It started to empty in around 2021’, she said. ‘It’s been going on as they had to do wildlife conservation and stuff like that.
‘Other people have come to an agreement with them, they were gradually buying the street. My other neighbour was the first to go.’
She and her husband, a university lecturer, bought the property in 2011, and she says she was aware of the initial plans for the road.
‘I was aware when I bought this house about the 90s plans and I went through the legal papers and it was fine. But now it’s reared its head again’, she said.
‘We moved in during 2011 and spent a couple of years doing things to it.
‘I do rather like it here. We put a new kitchen and bathroom in. That was phase one of the restoration, we were going to put an extension in on the back. We were going to go up into the roof but got wind of this happening so didn’t progress.
Mrs Roberts was offered £400,00 for the property – a deal she snapped up in August
‘We started to hear things about the road widening in 2013. There was two proposals, one was to widen the road which they did.’
She added that the A38 cannot be heard from her home, which she would love to stay in, but the parking issue has made it impossible for her.
‘I love this house, I love it’, she said. ‘The A38 isn’t a problem to me at all. You can’t hear it.
‘This house works for me. My husband works at the university and it’s a short walk to the hospital for me.
‘I’m not happy here now because of the parking. I had no plans to go. I have had to agree to go’.
She said she agreed to sell the property after a relapse in her condition, which resulted in a hospital stay in February.
‘I had a big relapse and couldn’t walk at all’, she said.
‘I thought I’d be alright but I wasn’t. I was taken to hospital and I was in the hospital for a fortnight. I couldn’t walk at all.
‘Whilst I was in hospital I started to think life is too short. This had been going on for five years.
‘I may not be able to walk in five years. It made me appreciate things and no want to waste five years haggling. I’m now ready to go before it ends me.’
She added that the stress of the ordeal has caused further medical issues.
‘It’s not for me to say but I’ve had three medical professionals ask me if I’m under stress lately and the minute they mention the housing situation actually can cause problems’, she said. ‘In my body it shut off my legs’.
Mrs Roberts has been to 92 house viewings in the last five years but has struggled to find any house that suits her disability needs and is within an affordable price range.
‘What they want you to do is go and find another house the same as yours’, she said. ‘Clearly I can’t. These houses are individually designed. I can’t find a house like this.
‘I don’t want to go but I shall be so relieved to move onto another phase of my life without this detritus muddling up my head’
‘I viewed so many houses, I think 92. I made offers on so many houses but they were being snapped up. Friends say I’ve looked at so many but I need the right one for me.
‘I haven’t got a clue where I’m going. We did live in a little bungalow that my husband owned, but there’s no way I can get in there. When you’re in a wheelchair you need quite a bit of space. In this house that can be easily accommodated.
‘I don’t want to go but I shall be so relieved to move onto another phase of my life without this detritus muddling up my head. I won’t be relieved to leave here, but the situation. From my own point of view this is the best house I’ll have. It’s very attractive.
‘I can’t see the future at the minute, I just know this one is dead.’
A National Highways spokesperson previously told MailOnline: ‘We appreciate moving house can be a stressful and emotive time which is why we strive to carry out the purchase of property needed for our road improvements in a fair, sympathetic and transparent matter.
‘We have made several offers to Mrs Roberts over the years and are pleased she has now accepted an offer for her property which we believe to be a fair market price.
‘In the meantime, we will continue to discuss the purchase with both Mrs Roberts and her appointed representatives under the rules of the compensation code and our offer of paying Mrs Roberts’ reasonable fees in obtaining professional advice remains open.’