Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Southbourne Gardens battle hits 20 mark

October 1st marked the 20th anniversary of the day when local residents were evicted from their allotments on land at the end of Southbourne Gardens, Bath.

The land is privately owned and the owner wished to build on the allotments. There have been numerous applications to build but for all of those 20 years local residents have resisted them. Although the space is virtually inaccessible it is now subject to yet another in a long list of planning applications.

Liberal Democrat Councillors Colin Darracott and David Dixon (Walcot) are supporting Claremont Residents' Association (CRASS) members in their hope that the land could be returned to use as allotments. The Council knows that there is a very long list for local allotments and that plans to build can be rejected if old allotments are needed once again.

Cllr Colin Darracott (Lib Dem, Walcot) said: "This is a frustrating example of the public sector being unable to deliver. The point is simple - there is growing demand for allotments in the area, powers exist to acquire land or reject development, but owing to conflicting priorities, nothing is achieved."

The gardens between Eastbourne Avenue and Chilton Road were originally divided into around 25 allotments.

Over the years local residents have been making donations to cover the cost of buying the land.

Chairman of CRASS, John Ingham said: "We can't call this 20-year mark a celebration, because we still haven't got our allotments. This is private property and I understand that the council has powers to acquire land for allotments. In view of the large demand for allotments and the modern emphasis on local food production, we hope the council will treat this as a priority. The latest application has been in for quite along time and we can't work out why. Some of the original allotment-holders are still very keen to get their plots back and there are also lots of new people, too."