Do Something Good
London's oldest surviving allotment is facing the threat of being built on thanks to plans by its landlord to construct a new housing development on part of the allotment site.
We desperately need to raise funds to pay for legal and specialist advice to help save our much loved allotments.
If you can spare just a few pound we would be very grateful for your help and support.
In early September 2016 the charity, Pathways, contacted plotholders at Northfield Allotments in Ealing to announce its proposal to build on 10% of the allotments. The development would include a five to six story block of social housing and four houses for sale to help fund the development.
Northfield Allotments are the oldest allotments in London. They were given by the Bishop of London to the people of Ealing in 1832, and are held as a permanent endowment. The charity Pathways is our landlord and the site is managed by a committee of seven plotholders. There are 141 plots.
The plotholders are a diverse range of ages and nationalities. Twenty nine of our plotholders live in flats – this is their only garden. We have around 50 children who have a safe place to play and learn about fruit and veg and get a chance to see tadpoles, stag beetles, bats and hedgehogs.
There are more than 25 pensioners who have a place to grow their own food and there is always company, someone to talk to. You are never alone when you have an allotment. People are friendly here and we share seedlings and produce.
We have counted 27 different nationalities – the only qualification to getting a plot is a love of gardening and the patience to wait on our waiting list (currently 72 people).
The hedgerow around the site is around 900m long and has been designated, by Ealing Borough council, a SINC - Site of Interest for Nature Conservation. It is an important and safe habitat for our hedgehogs, many nesting birds and insects. The allotments are a habitat for stag beetles, which are endangered and protected. With perfect timing the many visitors to our Halloween open day saw our bats flying around the site catching night flying insects.
On the 25th September at a special general meeting, the plotholders unanimously voted to oppose Pathways’ plans to concrete over the allotments.
We understand that social housing is important – but so are green open spaces. It shouldn’t have to be a choice of one or the other. We believe Pathways’ trustees have not fully considered alternatives to their proposal to ‘temporarily’ move 18 residents into what will be a permanent development on the allotments.
We believe a permanent endowment should be permanent.
The original allotments were much larger than they are today: 60% of the allotments were lost in the 1970s due to compulsory purchase by the council and building by Pathways. Our concern is that if planning permission is granted this time around it will be easier to lose more allotment land in the future as the pressure for housing so close to a Crossrail station increases.
When we lose green space we never get it back.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Please write to your local councillors to let them know what you think of the proposal.
- Write to the Ealing Gazette and Ealing and Northfield forums.
- Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with what is going on.
- We need specialist help, especially once the plans are submitted to Ealing Council. This will cost money. So, please help by donating whatever you can to our fighting fund.
Please help us protect the allotments for another 184 years.
Many thanks for all your help and support.
The Ealing Dean Allotment Society.
I’m going to leave the final word to Fran, one of our plotholders (who will lose her plot if the development goes ahead)…
“My allotment means a lot to me - we live in a third floor social housing flat with no access to a garden of our own. In 18 months my daughter and I have transformed the plot from weeds and brambles to our own little patch of heaven and my daughter has learned so much she never would have been able to before, from where our food comes from to the lifecycle of the frog - and she now wants to be a gardener when she grows up.”
Our local council is Ealing... and they have recently launched a new website to encourage local residents to volunteer.
The site was launched last week and Simon and I were asked to do a short talk to explain our project - the Radbourne Walk.
The council website is called Bubble and you can find it at http://www.dosomethinggood.org.uk. There are different sections to the site and Tan Afzal (Neighbourhood Governance Coordinator) explained how to log on and get stuck in. It is all pretty simple stuff and it should take you only about 5 minutes to get logged in and on the site ready to volunteer or set up your own projects.
There are three main sections to the site. One is called "Get Connected" where you can volunteer help to someone elses project. The "Get Involved" section allow you to check what projects have been posted on the site that you might like to help. Then the third section is "Got A Project". This is the one of interest to us - as it give us another place to publisise our volunteer days.
Simon and I did a short talk on the Allotments and the Radbourne Walk. We explained that over the last year we had orgainsed volunteer days every month to help improve the area and make it a nicer place to walk. In fact the snowdrops are just showing through and we urged people to go and see them and (in a few months time) take a look at the bluebells we planted too.
We already have our next volunteer day up on the site explaining about our hedgerow cleanup.
We're hoping this is going to be another good way to promote gardening, wildlife conservation and volunteering to residents of Ealing. It certainly has the backing of the council. There were talks from Councillor Bassam Mahfouz and Kieth Townsend (Executive Director - Environment and Customer Services).
So if you live in Ealing Borough do go and check out the site.