Demand grows for new allotment sites in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 15:00 25 July 2016

St Albans allotment owner Ken Kenwood chats to Cllr Simon Grover and committee member Bob Grover.

St Albans allotment owner Ken Kenwood chats to Cllr Simon Grover and committee member Bob Grover.

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Fears that St Albans’ inner city allotments might be sold off have been allayed after it emerged that demand for gardening plots is so high that additional land is being sought.

The allotments behind Folly Lane.The allotments behind Folly Lane.

At the full St Albans district council meeting last Wednesday (13) Green councillor Simon Grover asked whether the ruling administration “has any plans to sell off allotments or substantially change any aspect of who owns or runs them?”

Cllr Daniel Chichester-Miles, portfolio holder for the environment, replied: “Allotments are a good thing, we need more of them.”

He said that the council’s community services department “continues to look for small areas particularly within the city boundaries of St Albans. That is the area where we have an acute shortage.”

The council operates 10 allotment sites in St Albans, including in Folly Lane, which has 82 plots, and one in Park Street. Average waiting times to secure a plot range from three months to five-and-a-half years.

St Albans allotment owner Ken Kenwood chats to Cllr Simon Grover and committee member Bob Grover.St Albans allotment owner Ken Kenwood chats to Cllr Simon Grover and committee member Bob Grover.

Cllr Chichester-Miles said: “In terms of the running of them, this administration has over the last few years devolved the running of those allotments to town and parish councils around the district who are better placed and closer to the community to run them.

“Where the unparished parts of the city have allotments, they have been devolved to the city neighbourhoods committee (CNC) because those councillors sitting on it are better placed to handle the day to day running of the allotments.”

He added that if “someone said let’s start selling off our allotment sites, and turn them into something else, I personally would find that rather awkward.

“The allotment sites we have at the moment are viable, they are over-subscribed, and we need more of them.”

He said that years ago, allotment land had been disposed of in the district - with the backing of the Secretary of State - as some sites had “fallen into disuse and dereliction”.

The Herts Advertiser understands that there were fears in the community that some councillors were ‘keen’ to look at offloading some allotments to save the district money.

After the meeting, the chairman of the CNC, Cllr Alun Davies, reiterated, “there is no will across the district to close down any of the allotments.”

He added: “There are waiting lists for allotments – we don’t have enough to supply the demand. The council has been looking at potential sites. If anyone has any idea for possible sites, please get in contact with me. Even if they aren’t suitable, we would rather check them out.”

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