Plans to auction off alleyways at the end of East Barnet people's gardens came as “a bolt from the blue” to homeowners.

Householders in The Ridgeway, East Barnet, and the surrounding areas, were given just 11 days to bid for the alleyways behind their properties before they were sold to the highest bidder.

They all claim that when they bought their properties, conveyancing solicitors were unable to ascertain who owned the patches of land.

Many fear the land is big enough to accomodate new houses or flats, so are rallying together to ensure this does not happen.

Jackie Simpkins, whose father Sydney, 94, has lived in his property for over 50 years, said many elderly people in the area have been left confused by the plans.

She said: “Some people have been getting into a total state about this as they don’t understand what’s going on. They’re confused.

“It’s come as a bolt from the blue, no warning, nothing. Nobody wants to lose the area behind their houses, but there’s not been any consultation.

“It’s crazy, how can they go about things like that?”

Residents have been sending letters to their neighbours to “act fast” and rally together to decide what they want to do as a community.

There is no legal requirement to consult residents over selling land near their properties.

Geraldine and Stephen Smallbone bought their home in 2000 and have always left their bins in the access route.

But they fear the new freeholder could restrict access to their garage as their deed does not explicitly state “for vehicle access”.

Mrs Smallbone, 45, said: “It has left is anxious about the future, and where we stand. We have no idea what could go there.

“They’ve barely given us time to make a decision about what we want to do. We feel we should have been given more notice.

“It’s unreasonable.”

In total, 14 alleyways across East Barnet have been put up for auction by company Barnett Ross.

One includes a patch of land in Oak Hill Park – which is listed as Church Hill Park on the map – and is actually a conservation area.

They fear the grassy areas, which are around 30 metres wide, could be bought by developers to build houses or flats.

Barrister Christine Williams, of The Ridgeway, said: “It would pose a threat to the environment. We don’t want new properties built at the end of our garden.

“It would cause such disruption. We’re now going round speaking to neighbours so we can all rally together and decide what we want to do with this.”

They received letters on April 24, which informed them the land had in fact been owned by Residue London (Limited) since 1929 and was up for auction on May 13.

Despite this, chartered surveyor John Barnett of Barnett Ross auction house, in High Road, Whetstone, assured the land could not be built on.

He told the Times Series: “I’m sure they’re worried, but I’ve advised them not to buy it as they will have the same rights they’ve always had.

“Nobody can build houses on them because there’s rights under all the roadways. Some you can’t walk down because they’re overgrown.

“They’re going to be no worse off. The new owner could end up spending money on improving it by cutting away the foliage and putting gravel dwon to make it easier to pass and level.

“It would be an improvement for all the houses there, and they won’t have to pay any maintenance fees for it.”