Fringe Box



Letter: Destroying Century-old, Food-rich Allotments is Council Vandalism

Published on: 12 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 13 Jan, 2021

The allotments at Bellfields

From: Fleur Robertson

In response to: Weyside Urban Village Planning Application Published

I share an allotment on the Bellfields site due to be destroyed by this development. I note that part of the allotment there is to be retained, but only a token part.

In reality, as the Secretary of State announced this past summer, all of the ground, excellent soil, cultivated for decades, should remain untouched and incorporated into this development, not so shortsightedly swept aside for it.

Allotments should be as treasured by the council as they are by the community because they are sustainable, healthy and community-centred.

This group is nearly 100 years old and, down those years, these allotments have had a key part in enriching the local environment, helping maintain a healthy work-life balance for those who work them.

The relevance and essential qualities of allotment-keeping have even warranted specific mention during the lockdown strictures, as places where folk can still go, despite other places of recreation needing to be closed.

The allotment is a hub, a refuge, a lifeline, especially for those who do not have access to their own ground where they live. And it is never just the plot-holder who benefits from growing food; the wider neighbourhood shares the surpluses, creating bonds.

Allotments such as this are also a key component in maintaining wildlife within the city’s limits. Along the margins and within the plots themselves are welcoming places for nature.

One cannot assume recreating such a place is a simple matter of relocating a few sheds and standpipes on waste ground somewhere, as this application callously suggests. To destroy valued and nurtured allotments is vandalism that strikes at the heart of a community.

This sends a harsh, abrasive message along the lines of, “Your efforts, however long you and your family before you and with you now have been making them, however much they have cost you all, however much you have achieved as a consequence of them don’t count. You can shove off now to this nasty piece of dirty, unwanted ground and get out of our way”.

There should be more allotments, especially since there is such a long waiting-list for plots, now that the virus has concentrated minds and made allotments so popular. Growing one’s own food is an essential, health-giving benefit for many.

That the council is considering destroying allotments, especially ones which have proved venerably worthwhile as this, rather than creating new ones, is a true scandal that should be resisted by all who value the quality of our environment.

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Responses to Letter: Destroying Century-old, Food-rich Allotments is Council Vandalism

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    January 12, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    Well said.

    I really think that the Borough Council have really got this wrong and have, either completely failed to appreciate the strength of public opinion on this matter, or are simply choosing to ignore it.

  2. Norah Morden Reply

    January 12, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Shalford Parish Council often has spare allotments as does the National Trust by the river in Shalford, so it may be worth Guildford residents enquiring.

  3. Jean Wickens Reply

    January 12, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    We currently have about 250 people on the Guildford Allotment Society waiting list.

  4. Jules Cranwell Reply

    January 12, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Ms Robertson has made this case so eloquently. We can no longer afford to sacrifice any land capable of producing food to the greed of developers. Importing 60% of our food has been shown by recent events to be unsustainable.

    GBC needs to rethink this outdated and hated Local Plan.

  5. Georgina Grant Reply

    January 12, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    Suggesting people who live on the Northside of Guildford apply for allotments at Shalford is unrealistic. What about people who do not have cars? You can’t carry tools, plants and compost on a bus. And how would those who do have their own transport park close to a Shalford allotment?

    It will be an act of pure vandalism if the Borough Council closes allotments. As others have said, allotments are healthy, both for exercise and producing fresh food.

  6. Adam Aaronson Reply

    January 12, 2021 at 10:47 pm

    Yet again Guildford seems to be hell bent on destroying community assets.

  7. Jim Allen Reply

    January 13, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    It is a great shame that not one of the commentators on this subject, bothered to put pen to paper and complain to the Secretary of State. When the opportunity arose those many months ago.

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