Harpenden allotment sale sparks outrage

PUBLISHED: 10:39 15 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 06 May 2010

The allotmnet site at Westfield Road has been allowed to go to grass

The allotmnet site at Westfield Road has been allowed to go to grass

ANGER is mounting over the proposed sale of former allotment land in Harpenden in the wake of the boom in vegetable and fruit growing. Harpenden Town Council has been accused of being out of touch by making a second bid to get the former Westfield allotme

ANGER is mounting over the proposed sale of former allotment land in Harpenden in the wake of the boom in vegetable and fruit growing.

Harpenden Town Council has been accused of being out of touch by making a second bid to get the former Westfield allotment site off Westfield Road developed for housing after failing to get planning permission three years ago.

At that time the town council claimed that the site was completely underused but since then there has been a resurgence in allotment use.

Residents are far from happy about the idea of it being redeveloped for housing and are calling on the town council to think again about its proposal to sell it off.

Local children's writer Carol Hedges, of Coldharbour Lane, said this week: "All our local allotments are full with waiting lists and this has been allowed to go wild in a bid to get this through.

"The town council has let it go to just grass and fenced it off and there is no proper access."

In 2006 after the town council received approval from former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to take the land out of allotment use, the town council was refused planning permission when it tried to build 42 flats on the site.

At that time the district council decided that there was sufficient housing land available without the need to develop a greenfield site and they also felt the two blocks would have an overbearing impact on the area.

The district council has now indicated it would look more favourably on the application and the town council gave local people until yesterday to make objections to the scheme which they claim would result in 100 per cent affordable/social housing.

But Ms Hedges questioned the contention that it would be totally social housing - "You have to take that with a pinch of salt," she said.

"Look at what happened to Lydekker Park which was supposed to be housing for the people of Harpenden."

She said there was strong opposition from people living in surrounding roads who had watched as the town council had let it go to seed. "There has been a huge interest in allotments and the town council is completely out of sync with the way people want to lead their lives."

Town clerk John Bagshaw said he had been instructed to seek expressions of interest from developers wanting to build on the land but on condition it was used for social housing.

He stressed that whichever developer was chosen would have to work closely with housing associations and the district council's planning officers.

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