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Allotments And ‘Aggie’ Club Future Uncertain In GBC’s £395.5 million Weyside Urban Village

Published on: 10 Jan, 2020
Updated on: 10 Jan, 2020

By Hugh Coakley 

There appear to be two unwitting ”victims” in Guildford Borough Council’s giant £359.5 million Weyside Urban Village planned to start work next year.

The council plans to cut the 120 Bellfields allotments to less than 100 and move them to another site at Slyfield and has not announced any plans to continue the existence of the popular “Aggie” club much beyond 2026. All that has left growers and club members unsure of their future.

The ‘Aggie’ club is said to be moved in six to eight years’ time but the club says that the council has made no announcement as to its future.

Some families with limited incomes are believed to rely on produce from their allotments to supplement their food supplies.

Bellfields allotments, the Thames Water sewage works and ‘Aggie’ club will all be moved to make way for the Weyside Urban Village.

Philippa Wright, who chairs of the Guildford Allotments Society, said: “The tenants have seen the plans for the new allotments and we are working with GBC for an alternative site but this is not easy.

“North Moors site in Slyfield about 1.5 miles away has been proposed but it is not big enough and not close to any residential area. We’ve been told the allotments will have to go by April 2021.”

Wally Young, in his eighties and who has worked his allotment for more than half a century, said: “The North Moors site is in the middle of nowhere.”

And Diane Harris, treasurer of the “Aggie” Club (The Stoke and District Horticultural Society), said: “I am concerned for the club’s future but we haven’t been informed by GBC.

“I have spent the past three years getting us out of debt. I rang the council to ask if there was any point if we are being knocked down. We have been told it would be six to eight years before we have to go.

”We want to know a date and if they are going to offer us an alternative venue.”

The club, started after the Second World War, is owned by the members and is said to have the largest hall in Guildford.

The Weyside Urban Village, a 41-hectare brownfield regeneration scheme, is planned to deliver 1,500 homes, 2,000 square metres of community space and 6,500 square metres for employment.

GBC said the regeneration would create a vibrant new community with a mix of affordable housing and will be “connected to the town centre and station through the Sustainable Movement Corridor’s planned cycle routes and footpaths”.

Council leader Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary and St Nicolas), said: “The Village is the most exciting and important infrastructure project in our borough.

“The project will help deliver much-needed housing, community space and employment opportunities and we look forward to work beginning in the next year.”

An aerial view of the Weyside Urban Village boundary.

Joss Bigmore (R4GV leader, Holy Trinity), lead for Finance and Assets, Customer Services, said “The project is vitally important. It will deliver badly needed housing and negate the need for further encroachments into the green belt.”

The Guildford Greenbelt Group deputy leader, Ramsey Nagaty (Shalford), said: “GGG are, in principal, in favour of the development at Slyfield to increase industrial units and provide housing on brownfield sites.”

The council’s Tory group leader, Paul Spooner (Ash South & Tongham), said: “I welcome the decision and am very pleased this key project is progressing.

“While supporting this project, we will continue monitoring project costs to ensure funding remains within the agreed budget.”

The council Labour group had not responded with a comment by the time of publication.

The sewage in Slyfield are planned to be moved by 2023.

GBC will also need to move the council depot and open the nearly complete Slyfield internal estate road to provide access for the redevelopment of the land.

The Executive’s approval of the budget on Tuesday, January 7, is due to go to the full council on January 14.

Additional funding for the project includes an EM3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) grant of £7.5 million and a £52.3 million grant from the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The Slyfield internal estate road looks nearly complete and ready to be opened, as planned, this year.

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test 10 Responses to Allotments And ‘Aggie’ Club Future Uncertain In GBC’s £395.5 million Weyside Urban Village

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 11, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Long have I questioned the technical facts of this project.

    The new sewage treatment works needs to be completed before the old site can be cleaned and made ready for development.

    As there has been no confirmation that the move is technically possible and no legal ‘final’ agreement has been signed, and no entrance to the site disclosed, the 100-plus year-old adages with the words “cart before the horse” and “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”, come to mind.

  2. Simon Mason Reply

    January 13, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    I would like to know whether this regeneration project known as SARP is actually going to generate a profit for the council or is it going to end up costing the council tax-payers?

    It seems like there is going to be a great deal of money needed to cover the infrastructure relocation costs and the new Clay Lane link road and it would be good to know whether the project is projected to be profitable.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      January 14, 2020 at 9:02 am

      There is not going to be a Clay Lane Link Road.

      It was removed from the Local Plan and was illogical from the start.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    January 14, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    From the outline site plan shown above in red border, it seems to me that the allotment site and agricultural hall form a very small part of the development area.

    I see no reason why the plans cannot be redrawn to run along the boundary of the sewage works and leave the allotments and hall alone.

    After all, bearing in mind how small modern gardens are on new houses, I would imagine that many of the new residents might quite fancy an allotment.

  4. Helena Townsend Reply

    January 15, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    I heard that the [plan for the] Clay Lane link road is on its way back.

    It was never in the previous Local Plan, so I am not sure it is relevant. It’s not in the new one.

    You can’t build an estate as the one being proposed and not have a link road.

    The road was also very logical – being able take HGVs directly on to the A3.

    It was only criticised by those that lived off Clay Lane.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      January 16, 2020 at 10:00 am

      Sadly Ms Townsend does not appear to understand the difference between a NIMBY (not in my back yard objecting for any excuse possible) and a clear and rationational technical assessment of a suggestion / proposal.

      The road was ‘illogical’ because the proposer never asked ‘where do clients and user of the industrial estate come from and go to?’! North, south, east or west?

      And the ‘logical’ access to the A3 is the A320, which has already got planning inspectorate permission for south-bound on- and off-access, from as far back as the 1980s.

  5. Alasdair Nicol Reply

    January 16, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Bellfields allotment holders are being let down by the council and by politicians of all parties.

    GGG and R4GV did not stand here in the Stoke ward. They oppose house building in their local areas, but support the destruction of the allotments in Bellfields.

    #TeamZoe were apparently too busy delivering leaflets daily [during the general election campaign] to respond to emails on the matter, and there’s no comment in the article or the comments from the Labour councillors for the ward.

    The allotments are a social and environmental asset to Bellfields.

    Personally, I support moving the sewage treatment works to build housing. It’s just unfortunate that the council and local politicians are not showing any imagination on how some of the plots could be saved and integrated into the new development.

  6. Sue Hackman Reply

    January 21, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Given that all the parties declared a keen commitment to the environment and the community in the recent elections, please can we see some concern for small projects like allotments and community clubs.

    It cannot be beyond the wit of the winning parties (Lib Dems and R4GV) to save a hut.

    Did we elect the uninspired?

  7. Jenny Grove Reply

    January 21, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    The proposed allotment site at North Moors in Slyfield is about as far as you can get from Bellfields in this whole development scheme.

    It hasn’t been marked on any of the maps relating to the scheme in Guildford Borough Council’s Strategic Development Framework Supplementary Planning Document Consultation which has just been released for comments at https://guildford.inconsult.uk/consult.ti/SDFSPD/consultationHome

    It may be on green land outside the scheme boundary but wherever it is planned at North Moors, it is some considerable distance for regular visits. Bearing in mind that many of the new residents at the Weyside development will be in flats, you might have thought it would be advantageous to keep the allotments where they are.

  8. Jack Dawson Reply

    February 4, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Even taking into account the commercial development it looks like the 1,500 houses will ‘cost’ around £200,000 each to build, what will the sale price be?

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