Victory for Farm Terrace Allotments

As you may remember, Agents of Field have supported the campaign to Save Farm Terrace allotments since it began back in 2012. Our own veg plot is at a neighbouring allotment site just down the road from Farm Terrace and the plight of Sara Jane Trebar and her fellow plot-holders was something we very much took to heart.  I blogged about their campaign back in July and also reported on the Save Farm Terrace protest which I attended at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London later that same month.

At the time of the court hearing, we were advised that a decision would be forthcoming the following week. However, as the weeks became months and still no decision was announced as to the future of the allotments, we had become increasingly doubtful that the outcome would be a positive one.

However, last Friday, 31st October, the long-awaited announcement came that the High Court has quashed the government-approved council plans to turn the allotment land into flats and a car park;  Farm Terrace allotments are saved!

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Photograph used with permission of Sara Jane Trebar.

We’re thrilled with this news, not just because Sara Jane Trebar and her team have fought so tirelessly over the last two years and they wholeheartedly deserved to win, but because this is a landmark victory that could have important implications for other allotment sites threatened with closure up and down the country.

Perhaps most importantly however, it’s an encouraging reminder that the little guy can take on the big bullies – and win.

The full press release from the Save Farm Terrace campaigners can be viewed here.

Congratulations Farm Terrace!

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A ‘Peasful Protest’

This afternoon, I raced along to the Royal Courts of Justice in Westminster to attend the ‘Peasful Protest’ organised by the Save Farm Terrace allotment holders. It was the day of the court hearing, and as I mentioned in my previous post, Agents of Field have been following this case with interest since it began in 2012 as our allotment is at a neighbouring site.
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It was great to finally meet Sara Jane Trebar, head of the Save Farm Terrace campaign, as well as some of the other plot holders who descended on the courts dressed in wellies and carrying their allotment-grown produce. And it wasn’t just Farm Terrace plot holders who were out in force this afternoon, I met protesters from other allotment sites in London, as well as from Dorset and Sussex, which just goes to show this is an issue of national importance that affects all allotment holders wherever they may be.
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It was heart-warming to meet such a lovely group of people, all fighting for a cause we feel so passionately about.
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The court case finished just before 5pm and Mr Justice Ouseley is expected to make his decision next week.

Cross your fingers until then.
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Agents of Field are backing the fight to Save Farm Terrace Allotments

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).

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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:

Save Farm Terrace
Farm Terrace Allotment Fighting Fund

Photograph and video used with permission of Sara Jane Trebar

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