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Bellfields Allotments Decision ‘May Have Major Implications On Plans for Weyside Urban Village’ Says Council

Published on: 29 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 4 Sep, 2020

Guildford Borough Council has said the Secretary of State’s ruling in favour of allotment holders in Bellfields to keep their current site “may now have major implications for other parts of the Weyside Urban Village project”, and will reduce the number affordable homes that are planned.

The allotments at Bellfields.

A project, the council adds, that “is aimed to benefit the local and wider communities”.

It was announced earlier this week (August 25) that the Secretary of State Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, rejected the council’s application to give the plot-holders at the Old Farm Lagoon allotments off Bellfields Road, a new site and plots at an existing one.

Entrance to North Moors on the Slyfield Industrial Estate.

The council’s plan, within the Weyside Urban Village project, was to offer Bellfields plot-holders a new site at North Moors, on the edge of the Slyfield Industrial Estate, and plots at the Aldershot Road allotments in Westborough.

A statement from the council says: “The allotments were a key element of the Weyside Urban Village project, which has been planned for over 18 years and formed a crucial part of the council’s adopted Local Plan.

“The new allotments were designed to the highest possible environmental standards in close partnership with Guildford Allotment Society (GAS).

“The council has worked with GAS and other members of the community for over a year to ensure that all allotment holders receive a new plot. This included three public consultation events – in October 2019 and February 2020 – as well as weekly meetings with GAS and numerous newsletters.

“Weyside Urban Village proposes to cover 41-hectares of brownfield land at Slyfield to provide around 1,500 homes. In addition to high-quality affordable and private homes, the proposals also included new community facilities, measures to lower carbon emissions, an improved access to a bigger, dedicated nature reserve and new work and commercial spaces.”

An aerial view of the proposed Weyside Urban Village site.

From the council’s press release, from its communications team, the leader of Guildford Borough Council, Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) added: “We are disappointed with the decision, primarily on behalf of our residents, an overwhelming majority of whom have supported this project. We are reviewing the Secretary of State’s decision and considering the project’s next steps, and we will persevere to deliver the Weyside Urban Village project.

The leader of Guildford Borough Council, Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas).

“This decision will reduce the number of homes we are able to build by approximately 200, of which 90 would be affordable homes for local people, at a time when housing for all ages is one of the borough’s most pressing requirements.

“Our plans for the North Moors allotments provided extra facilities and greater security for the existing holders, and featured sustainable measures including harvesting rainwater. It also means that we will now need to review the proposed new pick-up point for pupils of Weyfield Primary Academy, which will raise safety concerns amongst parents.

“The Weyside Urban Village is the most exciting and important infrastructure project in our borough, meeting the highest environmental standards and providing new community space, educational facilities, employment opportunities, and improved pedestrian and cycle paths through to the town centre. It will rejuvenate the site and its surroundings by putting the environment and our borough’s residents’ needs first.”

From the council’s press release, Cllr Angela Gunning, (Lab, Stoke) said: “The Weyside Urban Village is an exciting project for my ward and will bring many benefits for the wider community.

Cllr Angela Gunning (Lab, Stoke).

“Residents have supported our plans enthusiastically, with 76% of those who responded in favour of the project, and it was great to see so many at our online information events. It is somewhat of a blow that this decision will mean the retention of the physical barrier between the new and existing communities and the river.

“The relocation of the allotments enabled a truly connected community and neighbourhood, and the potential loss of the new state-of-the-art allotments at North Moors, as well as the extension to the Aldershot Road allotments, is very disappointing.

“We understand how passionate people are about gardening in Guildford and were delighted to work closely with the Guildford Allotment Society on their plans. The health and wellbeing benefits of allotment gardening are huge, and the relocation of Bellfields Road’s allotments would secure our status as a leader in environmentally friendly community gardening projects.”

The allotments at Bellfields.

The chairman of the Guildford Labour Party, Brian Creese, who is also a plot-holder at Bellfields, added separately when asked by The Guildford Dragon NEWS to comment on the story Secretary Of State Rules In Favour of Growers In Battle To Keep Bellfields Allotments: said: “Guildford Labour supports the Weyside development, although we will be keeping a very  close eye on delivery of promised affordable housing and the quality of infrastructure.

“However I am also a tenant of Bellfields allotments and have been very dubious about the promises made to us, particularly with regards to the quality of the North Moors site.

“I admit to being astonished that a Secretary of State in a government pledged to deregulate planning in the midst of a global health pandemic and economic catastrophe has the time to pick a fight with Guildford Borough Council over this. I wonder if there has been some complacency here from our ‘coalition’ council?”

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test 4 Responses to Bellfields Allotments Decision ‘May Have Major Implications On Plans for Weyside Urban Village’ Says Council

  1. David Middleton Reply

    September 1, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    Absolute nonsense.

    The allotment site is a very small part of the riverside development area that bulges out of it. If the council and developers see its retention as a major fly in the ointment, they need to employ better site planners.

  2. David Roberts Reply

    September 2, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    In the 17th century the Diggers camped on St George’s Hill in a brief experiment that is now acknowledged to be one of the origins of British democracy. Maybe we should be inspired to turn so-called Wisley Airfield over to vegetables. More useful than parasite property developers.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    September 3, 2020 at 6:36 am

    This decision is great news. It should also apply to Wisley, Blackwell Farm and Gosden Hill, as there is no alternative provision for the fertile farmland that would be concreted over.

  4. Alasdair Nicol Reply

    September 4, 2020 at 10:19 am

    It’s disappointing that the councillors are repeating platitudes about the proposed North Moors site, rather than addressing the issues raised in the Secretary of State’s ruling.

    The Bellfields allotments are a vital community and environmental asset, not a “barrier” to be torn down. I hope that the council can now reconsider how the allotments can be incorporated in the new development, to be used by current and future residents of Bellfields and Weyside Urban Village.

    I believe the council were too hasty to issue the notice to quit before they received consent from the Secretary of State. They should now withdraw it promptly, to provide allotment holders with some certainty after a year of stress.

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