This coming Friday, 25th July, our neighbours at Farm Terrace Allotments in Watford will attend the High Court in Westminster to hear the fate of their beloved allotment site. This will mark the culmination of nearly two years’ relentless campaigning by plot holder Sara Jane Trebar and her team, who have fought the council since the proposed plans to redevelop the site were first announced back in 2012.
The allotments at Farm Terrace were established in 1896 and have continued to be a hub for the community, providing the residents of West Watford with a place to garden and grow their own food as well as being an essential green lung in a town which is becoming increasingly urbanized.
When Dorothy Thornhill, Mayor of Watford, first announced her plans to dispose of the allotment sites in December 2012 under the pretext that the land was essential to the development of the new hospital, she had underestimated the tenacity of Sara Jane and her fellow campaigners. Fighting the proposals every step of the way, they discovered that the land was actually destined to be developed into 750 new homes and a car park. By raising funds online and by rallying a team of top human rights lawyers who were prepared to take on the case, the first of its kind, Sara Jane and her team have challenged the ruling of Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, believing he has acted unlawfully in allowing Watford Council to build on the land. (Under the Allotments Act 1925, the Secretary of State is the guardian of allotments and protector against local authorities who have identified more economically valuable purposes for allotment land).
Allotments are more than just a place to grow food, they are central to the environmental and social fabric of the community. They encourage social inclusion and have been proven to promote physical fitness and mental wellbeing.
Our government purports to “protect and enhance our urban and natural environment to improve public health and wellbeing” yet has shown a complete disregard to the environment and to public health and wellbeing by marking this allotment land as viable for housing development.
This is essentially about councils profiteering from the green spaces that our urban communities so desperately need; it’s about greed, and if Watford council get away with this, it will set a precedent for allotments up and down the country. We cannot afford to let that happen.
Please show your support:
Photograph and video used with permission of Sara Jane Trebar