Wednesday 9 November 2016

Many allotments likely to be at risk after Farm Terrace court judgment

Goodbye Farm Terrace
A four year battle LINK to save the Farm Lane allotments in Watford from development ended last week when a judge found against the campaigners. BBC London News showed an 80 year old man weeping in despair at the loss of his beloved allotments.

As campaigner Sara-Jane Trebar explains below the judgment that said that 'exceptional circumstances'  allowed the Borough Council to take over the site, could have wider implications for allotment holders across the country:

Unfortunately our fight to save our allotment site and protect others has ended.

We the Farm Terrace allotment holders are bitterly disappointed that the Judge did not find for our case against the government and Watford Borough Council.

This has been a very long, very emotional battle for us. We feel that at very stage where we have won the rules have been changed to make it increasingly difficult for us.

This judgement is in our view, is a developers charter for development on any allotment site and could wipe out urban allotments forever. We are extremely worried about the ramifications of this case for all allotments. We still believe that the remits of ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ have still not been clarified nor explained. If there is no bench mark for what is an exceptional circumstance. We feel the term can and will be applied to get rid of many other plots and sites.

There is evidence almost weekly of sites losing land to development or like us losing their whole site.

We are very frightened about the future of urban allotments, unfortunately as our case has shown, they can now be offered as a ‘blank cheque’ to cash hungry developers and councils. Farm Terrace plots are and always have been in demand. This point was not questioned in court and yet permission to dispose of it was given. Watford Borough council have now been given the opportunity to do whatever they want with this land, be it a car park, expensive housing or yet more flats.

After consulting with our loyal legal team, we have come to the very difficult decision not to appeal against this decision. This is the end of the road for us. We have got to give up the keys to Farm terrace on Friday the 4th. Give up keys to plots that are still being worked, still growing fruit and vegetables and still very much loved so that bulldozers can move in. Needless to say it is heartbreaking. 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters near and far and of course our prestigious legal team, who could not have worked harder for us or for the protection of all allotments. We now leave the defence and protection on England’s Allotment sites to the National Allotment Society who we hope will work hard to safeguard other sites.

We could not be prouder of ourselves and our supporters who have battled so tirelessly against this immoral and illogical act. We feel we have done ourselves proud. It is a very sad day for everyone involved.

We would like to thank everyone at the National Allotment Society who have supported us over the past 4 years, particularly allotment holders and sites up and down the country. We also now leave the Society to take forward the issues raised in the judgement for the sake of all allotment sites in the country.

I have now closed donations to the gofundme account.

We would like to thank all those who donated to our crowd funding site, no matter how little or large an amount you helped us take this fight as far as we could and we remain thankful for that opportunity.

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