Radbourne Walk - Planting Plan

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.

 

https://www.gofundme.com/ealingdean

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.

OUR COMMUNITY

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).

OUR WILDLIFE

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.

NO CHOICE?

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.

OUR CONCERN

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.”


The Radbourne Walk Enhancement Plan

Environment creation
The first of the three main aims in the footpath enhancement plan is to turn this neglected area into a visually attractive and colourful place. To create an immediate impact with plants, I recommend using selective native cornfield annuals. One benefit of using annual plants is that they will grow quickly from seed within one year. Another important benefit of these plants is that in the long-term these species will eventually die out unless the soil is annually turned over. This will avoid competing with local native plant species which we aim to introduce over a longer term basis and also any detrimental effects created by the introduction of aggressive plants species. I recommend a simple wildflower meadow mix containing Corn Poppy, Corn Marigold & Cornflower.

The reasons for recommending these 3 plants are:
1. They have a simple attractive colour mix, red, yellow and blue.
2. They will grow in local soil conditions.
3. These species evoke a nostalgic feeling which we aim to encourage within the users of the footpath.
4. The opportunity to source these seeds from a current plot holder who has been growing and collecting seed for the past three years.

Habitat creation
The second aim I would like to achieve is the creation of wildlife habitats. There are opportunities along the 360 metre length of path to create habitats for birds & insects like Woodpeckers, Frogs, Stag and Devil’s coach horse beetles, Butterflies, Moths, Wild Bees and Wasps etc. All of which have been seen on the allotments.

The Plan will include:
1. The creation of vertical wood piles dug into the soil to create a feeding environment for Stag beetle larvae and a host of other insects that are associated with dead wood.
2. The creation of winter nesting sites for various insects including wild bees, wasps and flies.
3. There are also opportunities to continue to grow local native plants that benefit butterflies and moths for both larval and nectar sources. These will also serve for the less popular but equally important pollinators of the Fly family. These plants include Stinging nettle, Red clover, Ragwort, Dandelion and Buttercup to name but a few.
4. The continued and managed growth of shrubs and dead wood provides food source, nesting sites and shelter for a variety of birds, including Green Woodpeckers, Gold Finches and Jays.
 

Reintroduction of Native Plants Species
The final aim of the footpath Enhancement Plan is to reintroduce local native species into this footpath area. There is currently over 20 identifiable native plant species growing along its length (see table below). It is our aim to reintroduce more locally sourced native plant species.

The benefit of this introduction would be to:
1. Create a “Local Wild Plant haven” with ever increasing species diversity.
2. An increased diversity of insect populations from the expanded plant species.
3. Allow for the creation of genuine local native plant seed for sale or distribution to interested parties.

Additional Native Plant Species
It is proposed that a selection of native plants not found locally will be added to the footpath these species will be selected for their benefit to insects and for their aesthetic qualities. These plants will include Wild Foxglove, Giant Mullein, Dark Mullein, Weld, Lords and Ladies and Teasel.

 

Footpath Dimensions and Light Position

The path has been surveyed by Christina and Simon. The whole length and width was measured and divided into zones according to the amount of light in each section and the prevailing species already growing along the path.

Zone

Length

Path width

Soil width

Position

1

30m

3.0m-1.7m

8.0m-3.25m

Semi-Shade

2

30m

1.7m-1.5m

3.0m-2.0m

Semi-Shade

3

21m

1.5m

2.0m

Semi-Shade

4

15m

1.5m

1.5m

Semi-Shade

5

30m

1.5m

2.3m

Sun

6

24.4m

1.5m

2.1m

Sun

7

9.4m

1.5m

2.1m

Shade

8

24.2

1.5m

2.0m

Sun

9

20m

1.5m

2.1m

Shade

10

30m

1.5m

2.5m

Semi-Shade

11

30m

1.5m

1.8m

Sun

12

24.7m

1.5m

2.0m

Sun

13

31m

1.5m

3.1m

Semi-Shade

 

Action Plan
The Action plan set out in 2014 included:

1. The removal of rubbish including plastic bags, wooden boarding, metal, glass bottles etc.
2. The removal of plant & shrub debris, this material can be used to create compost or be burnt to create nutrient for the allotment or pathway.
3. The turning over of the top 8 inches of Topsoil to create conditions for annual seed growth. The removal or ‘digging in’ of leaves from the topsoil.
4. The cleaning of the tarmac path, with either  a yard broom and water or jet spray. The levelling of soil on the outer edge of the path to reduce dirt build-up.
5. The creation of vertical wooden piles inserted into the soil will create feeding areas for Stag beetle larvae.
6. The drilling of varying sized holes in dead tree stumps will allow a range of bees and flies to overwinter in the holes.
7. The continuation of ‘Stinging Nettle bars’ will serve as a food source for various butterflies and moths. These bars can also include other currently found wild plant species.
8. To introduce new locally sourced native plant species from seeds or cuttings found in waste places, these plants will include Yarrow, Hawkweed, Clovers, Stinking Iris,
9. The introduction of native plants not known in the local environment including Wild Foxglove, Giant Mullein, Dark Mullein, Weld, Lords and ladies and teasel that will enhance the environment for Humans and wildlife.
10. A longer term project to introduce wild plant species, recognised in the Ealing borough Biodiversity plan will include: Common spotted orchid, birds foot trefoil, common fleabane, pepper saxifrage, teasel, meadow vetchling, common knapweed, crested dog’s tail (all in decline in Ealing)
11. Contacting environmental organisation who can help and add to the knowledge and resources of the Footpath Enhancement Plan.
12. A long term plan to create a seed bank of these locally found wild plant species will be organised by EDAS. The seeds could be sold or given to interested parties.
13. Contact the Ealing Borough council to inform them of the land rights, enhancement plan and request to stop any organised strimming of the pathway area by council workers.
 

 

Planting Plan Section 1 (Between Fence Posts 120-131)

Location
The key feature of this section is its position at the start at the north end of the footpath. This is important as it will be the first section that people will see and therefore creates the opportunity to show improvements and an example of things to come. The area extends for 30 metres with a width from 8.0m to 3.25m. The site has partial shade with a number of large trees overhanging the path. The soil is a mixture of leaf mould acidic soil and locally occurring clay soil.
Area A
Wildflower Annuals
This area allows us to create an easy impact within a number of months. To create this impact I recommend using a selection of annual Wildflowers containing a mix of Corn Poppy, Cornflower and Corn Marigold.
The seed mix will be broadcast sown in the areas both sides of the footpath and extending deeper across the full width where the soil area meets the Dean Villas house. Due to the shade from trees growth of the annual plants may be uneven.
Area B
Existing Native Plants
This area allows us to see which existing plants are growing by the footpath. In this area we can let plants grow and catalogue them and take seed or cuttings. The topsoil will be turned over and the existing perennial and biannual plants will be left. Seeds and cuttings maybe taken from these plants and used to re-populate other areas of the path. In the long term new local species will be added in this area.
Area C
New Introduced Native Plants
This includes areas that run along the existing wall and gives a great opportunity for tall shade tolerant species. Plants for this area will include Wild Foxglove, Great Mullein, Dark Mullein and Teasel.
Tarmac Path
The Tarmac Path will be cleaned off with a stiff yard broom and water to remove years of old dirt. Drainage holes will be drilled where possible to reduce puddles. These drainage holes will be filled with loose gravel taken from the tarmac path. Initial exploratory holes will be needed to ascertain the depth of the path foundation.
 

Native plants identified in Ealing Dean Allotment Footpath 2013

Common name

Plant type

Footpath distribution level

Stinging Nettle

Perennial

widespread

Black Horehound

Perennial

widespread

Burdock

Biannual

occasional

Annual Mercury

Annual

widespread

Green Alkanet

Perennial

widespread

Dock

Perennial

moderate

Willowherb (further identification planned)

Perennial

moderate

Cleavers

Annual

widespread

Wood Avens

Perennial

widespread

Ivy, Common (green)

Perennial

moderate

Pendulous sedge

Perennial

limited

Ragwort

Perennial

moderate

Creeping Cinquefoil

Perennial

moderate

Grass Various

Perennial/Annual

widespread

Cow Parsley

Perennial

localised

Dandelion

Perennial

Localised

White Clover

Perennial

Occasional

Local Native Plants to be introduced to footpath in 2014
 

Plant common name

Location Found

Plant cutting or seed

Yarrow

Walpole & Lammas Park

Cutting

Clover (further identification planned)

Walpole & Lammas Park

Cutting

Burdock

ED Allotment Footpath

Seed

Buttercup (further identification planned)

Walpole & Lammas Park

Cutting

Stinking Iris

Walpole & Lammas Park

Cutting

Cats ear

Walpole & Lammas Park

Cutting

Cow Parsley (further identification planned)

Walpole & Lammas Park

Cutting

Hawkweed

Walpole & Lammas Park

Cutting

 

Non Native, Garden & Allotment Escapes plants on the Footpath 2013
 

Throughout the year plants found growing will be added to the list.

Plant

Plant type

Footpath distribution level

Japanese Knotweed Cultivar

Perennial

Localised

Variegated Ivy

Perennial

Localised

Forget-me-not

Annual

Localised

Aquilegia

Perennial

Localised

Gladioli

Perennial

Localised

Periwinkle

Perennial

Localise