SHOCKED families from four different homes have been left stunned after learning their front gardens are to be auctioned off.

Furious neighbours in Marine Parade, Zider Pass and Beck Road, were shocked when a brochure was dropped through one of their letterboxes showcasing their front lawns as being up for grabs in a London auction.

The families have been renting and tending the strips of land for up to 25 years from Essex County Council, and received no notification from the authority of the impending sale.

Mike Bering, 61, of Marine Parade, said: “Anyone could buy the land. Someone could’ve just turned up, pitched up a caravan in our front garden and I would be looking down at them from my balcony, powerless to stop them.

“They could cut down all my trees, rip up the path and what could I do about it? It’s just such bad practice from the council. The very least they could’ve done is spoken to us individually and given us the chance to buy what we feel is essentially our land.”

The residents have been fighting for years to try and purchase their gardens, but have been refused permission by the county council.

Despite being located on three separate roads, the gardens are being sold as a single lot, meaning if one of the families decided to foot the £2,000 bill, they would also own their neighbours land.

Bill Graham, 66, of Beck Road, said: “I am absolutely disgusted this can be allowed to go ahead. How would I feel if I did buy it, going up to Mike and saying I’ve just bought your land.

“One thing’s for certain I will be wanting reimbursement for all the years and all the money I’ve spent making my garden look beautiful.”

To make matters worse, for Mark Durant, 41, the front garden is the only way to access his property in Marine Parade.

Mr Durant said: “I would technically be trespassing across someone else’s land to get to my front door. What if the owner refused to let me access my own home? What would I do?”

The auction, which is being held by Lambert Smith Hampton, will take place at the Millennium Hotel, in Grosvenor Square, London on February 25.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “While we appreciate the residents’ situation, the land concerned is Essex County Council land, and this would have been made clear when the houses were bought.

"Essex County Council, through our agents, visited all of the auction sites and where possible made contact with all those with an interest in the land. We have had no approaches, prior to the auction, from anyone interested in buying the land.

"However the auctioneers have discussed how to bid for this land with the homeowners, as this offers a quick and cheaper opportunity for them to buy this land.”