London Colney parish clashes with St Albans diocese over rabbit infestation on wasteland

The state of the Glebe allotments off Richardson Close, London Colney, is causing friction between t

The state of the Glebe allotments off Richardson Close, London Colney, is causing friction between the church (landlords) and the parish council (tenants) - Credit: Archant

St Albans Diocese has been accused of being “unprofessional” and “disrespectful” by a parish council chairman following a row about overgrown wasteland next to a plot of allotments.

London Colney parish council rent one half of a plot land just off Richardson Close, London Colney, from the Diocese of St Albans and sub-let it to residents for use as allotments.

The other half of the land - which was earmarked for a housing development which was shelved due to lack of access - has become so overgrown that it is home to rabbits and other vermin and is affecting green-fingered gardeners who use the adjoining allotments.

Malcolm MacMillan, chair of London Colney parish council said: “It has just been an ongoing thing. The Diocese cuts it back now and then, when they feel like it, but it’s just so overgrown.

“It affects them [allotment-users] really badly. People always complain about it but nothing seems to happen. It’s so overgrown now that it is home to vermin and it’s starting to really affect people.”

Cllr MacMillan wrote to the Diocese of St Albans - something he says he has had to do on a number of occasions - but was stunned when he received a reply instructing him to contact the Diocese’s property agent and stop writing directly to the church.

He said: “It’s just plain disrespectful for a statutory body to liaise with another statutory body in that way.”

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But a spokesman from the Diocese said that referring the parish council to the agent was “merely a case of administrative efficiency” and said that “this is the way any landlord would deal with a tenant”.

A statement later released from Diocese of St Albans board of finance confirmed that the land was cleared periodically and said: “We have no wish to be on anything other than good terms with our tenant and neighbour.

“Rabbits, being wild, can and do appear on land in any condition. The law does not place a duty on landowners to their neighbours in respect of rabbits.

“We did, through our agent, suggest rabbit fencing to London Colney parish council that might prevent damage.”