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Letter: Is GBC Condemned To Repeat Allotment Appeal Still Without Negotiation?

Published on: 1 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 1 Mar, 2021

Entrance to Bellfields Allotments.

From: Alastair Watson

Save Bellfields Allotments Group, committee member, National Allotments Society

In response to: Opinion: Allotment Holder Rights Must Be Balanced With the Need for Affordable Houses

The three sites comprising Bellfields allotments are statutory land protected by law. GBC knew this.

To develop a statutory site, the landowner has to get the agreement of the Secretary of State for Communities. The procedure and criteria are well established. GBC got it wrong and their application was rejected. Nothing to do with allotment holders.

They are now suggesting a resubmission requesting release of the allotment land. They have not negotiated with Guildford Allotments Society or the tenants at Bellfields and in the absence of any agreement the request will be opposed.

Work started today (March 1) to provide additional allotments on the Aldershot Road allotment site.

Whether this time they will follow the advice of the National Allotments Society (NAS), who are required to provide an objective report to the Secretary, remains to be seen.

There is no certainty the resubmission will succeed, neither is there certainty that objections by Guildford Allotment Society or the tenants of Bellfields will carry the day. The Secretary will decide, not councillors, developers or allotment holders.

So what plans do GBC have if rejected a second time? Another two-year delay while they lick their wounds and blame others for their incompetence?

Did GBC properly consult and involve GAS and Bellfields tenants in their plans? No, but they didn’t last time and that was a factor leading to the government rejection.

Initially, did they follow the advice of NAS? No, and they sought it only after forceful encouragement from me. Will they follow it this time even if they ask for advice. Probably not, if that advice conflicts with their plans.

Albert Einstein is widely believed to have said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Allotment holders at the Bellfields site have begun to prepare their plots for the growing season ahead.

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