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Tenants Objecting to GBC’s ‘Imminent’ Application for 77% of Bellfields Allotments

Published on: 11 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 11 Jun, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

GBC is making another bid to get permission to reallocate land in Bellfields currently used for allotments. The permission is necessary to progress work on the 1,500 home Weyside Urban Village.

The second application by the borough council to the Secretary of State is to be made “imminently”.

Save Bellfields Allotments campaigners, who plan to object to the application, say there is a risk it will be turned down once again because attitudes over the importance of allotments are changing.

Plotholders at the Old Farm Lagoon allotments in Bellfields stand watching site surveyors in April 2020.

A previous application by GBC to acquire the land after their initial proposals to take all of the Bellfields site was rejected by the SoS in August 2020.

Alastair Watson, spokesperson for the campaign, said the latest proposals now “probably” met the statutory requirements but he thought the recognition by the government of the value of allotments to the community meant there was a risk of further rejection.

He said: “We are not against the housing development but our needs should be met as well.”

Outline plan for the Weyside Urban Village in the planning application in December 2020. GBC is said to be up against tight financial deadlines for the project.

He said the campaign had forced GBC to make concessions. “Even with the proposal as it stands, everyone at Bellfields today will get a plot; that wasn’t the case two years ago.”

A meeting of the Save Bellfields Allotments on Saturday, June 5 was said to have been attended by “30 to 40 people” out of the 90, or so, tenants. Mr Watson said they were assessing the feedback but he said, from the mood at the meeting, there will be “an objection from the tenants”.

Philippa Wright chair of Guildford Allotments

Philippa Wright, chair of the Guildford Allotment Society, said they would decide whether to object when they could see detailed plans.

GAS and the campaigners had sought the tenants’ views in a recent survey after criticising a survey by the GBC Wellbeing Team which they said did not “give an option of remaining” on their plots. GAS say they will send the results to the SoS when GBC submits its application to take the land.

70% of tenants were said to have responded to GAS survey with the tenants concerned some people would give up their plots because they had to drive to the new allotments, the anxiety over the possible move and the loss of community at Bellfields. There were also safety concerns about the North Moors site and a view that there was a lack of “proper consultation” by GBC.

GBC proposals retain 7,500 sq metres, around 23%, of the existing 32,000 sq metres allotments. They did not respond to a request by The Dragon for plans showing which plots would be retained.

GBC say they will be “increasing the total number of plots on the borough”. Displaced tenants are to be offered alternative plots at the new site at North Moors and the extended Aldershot Road site (see Guildford’s MP Steps In To Break Stalemate In Bellfields Battle Over Allotments).

Dawn Hudd, GBC director of strategic services, said: “We have continued our consultation with both Guildford Allotment Co-operative Society and the National Allotment Society about the relocation of the Bellfields Allotments.

“Discussions have been held on the possible retention of some plots at Bellfields Road, whilst still producing new allotments at North Moors and Aldershot Road.

“The timing of the allotment relocation, and our imminent application to the Secretary of State, is determined by the government funding which we have received for this project.”

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test One Response to Tenants Objecting to GBC’s ‘Imminent’ Application for 77% of Bellfields Allotments

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    June 12, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    So the reduction of available allotments and the introduction of potentially 3,800 people some of whom will be looking for allotments.

    Sensible doesn’t come into it.

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