Ashfield allotment petition over plans to bulldoze 'lifeline' fruit and veg plot

Annesley allotment owners will be ‘blowing raspberries’ at council officials if plans to bulldoze part of their ‘lifeline’ fruit and vegetable plot goes ahead.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 10:59 am

Worried gardeners at the Wesley Street site have gathered 1,292 signatures to stop a 12 two-bedroom, bungalow development.

A row broke out over Ashfield District Council’s plans on part of ‘unused’ allotment land gifted to the community.

One plot, in the affected area, is used by Stewart Chalkley and has been tendered by his family since 1937.

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MP Lee Anderson meets with allotment holders

The holders also argue the land was bequeathed as allotments and should be used to ease a six-year waiting list for plots.

Wesley Street Gardening Club secretary Peter Stanley said the allotments provided a ‘vital community lifeline’ during the pandemic and as far back as the Second World War, providing food, and an outdoor green space.

Mr Stanley said: “The Wesley Street allotment land was given to the community by the Duke of Portland as part of the Welbeck Estate. It has a covenant, and must only be allotments.

Stewart Chalkley's Grandad Raymond Arthur Chalkley who tended the allotment Stewart still uses.

"The council has let part of it get neglected, despite that we have 38 people waiting for plots. There’s been a lot of interest in growing food and allotments since lockdown, they are lifelines for people. They should use the ground for what it was intended.”

Stewart Chalkley, 68, of Fox Street, said: “I remember helping my grandad Chalkley in the allotment as a lad, the cold frame he made, I still use.

"The council said it’s not used by anyone there, but I’m there, I’ve got all my invoices, and my family had the plot since 1937.”

Stewart Chalkley pictured with great niece Elizabeth

The married dad of two , who still works part-time as a textile industry dyer, added: “I grow everything from carrots, cabbages, spuds, caulis, to strawberries, black and red currants and raspberries. That plot is part of my family’s history.”

MP Lee Anderson was invited to the allotment to hear the gardeners’ views.

“The residents dispute the land is unused, and it will cost the council £70,000 to remove the covenant on the land – money allotment users feel would be better spent on improving existing new sites or creating new ones,” he said.

“I’ve asked for a meeting with the council to discuss their issues.”

Councillor Jason Zadrozny

But Councillor Jason Zadrozny, Leader of Ashfield District Council, insisted that the land is not in use.

He said: “The land at Wesley Street, the council is looking to develop into 12 affordable rent bungalows is an unused section of overgrown land.

“The site is away from the allotments, no existing registered allotment holder will be displaced, and none of the existing registered allotments will be lost as a result of the proposed development.

“The development would see 12 affordable rent bungalows built, increasing the council’s housing stock. There are 7,000 people currently on the council’s housing list and the development of new social housing means we are able to provide safe and secure homes to more people in Ashfield.

“We understand the importance of allotments in the community, and the vital part they have played during the pandemic. We have a large number of allotments across the District and are committed to ensuring they remain for future generations to enjoy. We will continue to use the majority of the Wesley Street site for this purpose.

“When seeking to change use of an allotment site, either in part or as a whole, the council is obliged to seek consent from the Secretary of State. As part of this process there is also a consultation with the National Allotment Society. The council received consent from the Secretary of State in early July 2021 following a full investigation by them.

“The council have been in talks with the Welbeck Estate regarding the covenant placed on the land. As the proposal is for new council housing the covenant can be adapted to cover this.

He added: "No meeting request has been received from Mr Anderson MP at this time.”

Sign the petition at Http://chng.it/DXRrvFY2

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