London’s oldest allotment to open gates for fourth annual Summer Open Day
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.”
31st May 2018
London’s oldest allotment to open gates for fourth annual Summer Open Day
Plotholders at London’s oldest allotment are giving visitors the opportunity to experience the capital’s horticultural heritage this summer as Northfields Allotments opens its gates for its fourth annual summer open day.
On Sunday 1st July between 1pm and 5pm, plotholders at Northfields Allotments on Northfield Avenue, West Ealing, will invite visitors to join them for the fourth Northfields Allotments Summer Open Day.
Visitors will be able to peruse the wide variety of plots on the site and see what is growing, as well as joining a guided tour to discover more about the site’s wildlife and history.
Other attractions will include the onsite apiary where the bees produce Northfields Allotments honey; a heritage plot with a World War II Anderson shelter; a wildlife-friendly shed made from recycled materials; and a traditional potager plot.
In addition, there will be a refreshment stall selling tea, coffee and cakes; plant and produce stalls; kids activities; planting demos; and the Damson Tree Bar where visitors can enjoy a drink in the orchard.
Entry is FREE, although donations will be welcome.
Visitors should come to the main allotment gates at the north end of Northfield Avenue in West Ealing (opposite Dean Court). Dogs are allowed if kept on a lead.
For anyone with an interest in gardening, London’s history or simply curious about what takes places on a modern urban allotment, this will be an unmissable event.
Christina Fox, chairman of the Ealing Dean Allotment Society, said: "Our fourth Summer Open Day comes at an important point in the history of Northfield Allotments. Our plotholders spent last year worrying that part of the site would be built on, however these development plans seem to have been put on hold for the time being. That said, the threat hasn’t gone away so we intend to make the most of this opportunity to celebrate our wonderful green space."
“Our open days have always been really well supported by the local community. Last summer, over 700 guests came to our historic site and I know I speak for all of our plotholders when I say that we are really excited to be inviting visitors back through the gates again this year.”
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Notes to editors
For further information and images of Northfields Allotments, please contact:
07789 515 881
About Northfields Allotments
At 186 years old, Northfields Allotments is London's oldest allotment site. It dates back to 1832, when the Bishop of London enclosed the site for use as allotments by the local community.
The original Ealing Dean allotments were much larger, with land on both sides of Northfield Avenue. However, approximately thirty years ago 60% of the total allotment site, the land to the west of Northfields Avenue, was compulsorily purchased and built on.
The Northfields Allotments site comprises the remaining 141 allotments on the eastern side which are fully rented, with over 70 people currently on the waiting list.
The site is currently held in trust by the housing charity Pathways and managed by the Ealing Dean Allotment Society (EDAS), which consists of allotment tenants.
In September 2016, plotholders at Northfields Allotments were informed by Pathways that it intends to construct a mixed social and private housing development on part of the allotment site, a proposal that plotholders and local residents are currently opposing.
A petition opposing the development has been set up and can be accessed here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-london-s-oldest-allotments
Further information about Northfields Allotments is available at:
- Website: http://www.ealingdean.co.uk/
- Facebook: SaveNorthfieldsAllotments
- Twitter: @SaveNFAllotment
- Instagram: Save_Northfields_Allotments