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Council Calls For Engagement But Allotment Holders Still Oppose Weyside Proposals

Published on: 12 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 12 Feb, 2021

Allotments at Bellfields

By Hugh Coakley

Bellfields allotment tenants, who fear they will be told to move if a development project proceeds, have criticised a questionnaire the borough council are asking them to complete.

They are being asked to say what they need from their allotments but allotment representatives were critical of the council’s approach saying that the questionnaire, sent out did not allow for “tenants to state their preference to stay and, if so, for what reason”.

They expressed doubt whether the council’s process would be enough to get approval from the Secretary of State, at the second time of asking, for housing to be built on the allotment site.

The Weyside Urban Village (WUV) team, say that they have to “fully understand the requirements of each and every allotment holder” before they can determine the exact number of allotment plots they can take for the 1,550 houses project.

The project suffered a setback in August 2020 when the Secretary of State rejected the application to take all of the Bellfields allotment plots and to provide replacement allotments at North Moors, on the edge of the Slyfield Industrial Estate, and additional plots at the Aldershot Road allotments in Westborough.

The council now say they “recognise the need to retain some allotment plots” and they will submit a new application for part of the Bellfields site once the number of allotments needed at Bellfields and other sites within the borough is known.

Cllr John Rigg

Lead councillor for Regeneration, John Rigg, (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said: “We are really keen to ensure we meet the needs of the allotment holders whilst also seeking to deliver new homes.

“That is why alongside continued engagement with the Guildford Allotment Cooperative Society, our Community Wellbeing team have also approached all allotment holders to understand their individual needs and requirements.”

And addressing the tenants, he said: “Your views are essential to inform the next steps for providing allotments on our Bellfields Road site.”

Proposals for Weyside Urban Village, have been submitted to the GBC planning authority for approval. Consultation closes on March 4 2021.

Outline plan for the Weyside Urban Village.

Chairman of the Guildford Allotment Co-operative Society, Philippa Wright, said: “Once we knew of the questionnaire we advised the tenants that it was in their interest to respond.

“GBC has not consulted with the Guildford Allotment Co-operative Society in their drawing up of the outline plan in the planning application.

Existing land use plans on the Weyside Urban Village site showing the Bellfields allotments in orange. Click to enlarge the image.

“The development of North Moors and extending Aldershot Road would suffice on a like for like number of plots. However, there has been no consideration given by GBC that some of the new residents on the WUV site will want an allotment plot.  The number of houses being built will bring about an increase on the already very long waiting list for plots.”

Spokesperson for the Save Bellfields Allotments group, Alastair Watson, said: “A narrative of constant, regular, ongoing consultation is simply false.

“The questionnaire does not give an option of remaining. So not a consultation. Lack of consultation was one reason the SoS rejected GBC’s application.

“If their planned re-submission to the SoS is also rejected, do they have a Plan B? They didn’t last time.”

A spokesperson for WUV said that 26 questionnaires had been returned by Wednesday, February 11 but they wanted to hear from all 86 allotment holders.

He said: “Please email the completed questionnaires to: adding, “We are also very happy to help you complete the questionnaire over the telephone if easier. Our contact numbers are 01483 444616 or 07970 032626.”

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Responses to Council Calls For Engagement But Allotment Holders Still Oppose Weyside Proposals

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    February 12, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    Allotments should never have been included within the SARP scheme in the first place.

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