I was going to write about the raised beds and the cucumber plant and the gift that keeps on giving, the courgette plants but on the 31 August, Pathways, the charity that owns the land my allotment is on announced their intention of developing 10% of the allotment land to build houses.Pathways also provides rented sheltered housing in Ealing (in other boroughs as well) and has 54 flats across the road from the allotments. Their plan is to redevelop that site to double the housing and build 18 homes for social rent and 4 for sale on the allotment site. They estimate that this is take up about 10% of the allotment site, they have since confirmed that they don’t know if that’s a correct estimate because they haven’t surveyed the site. The full scope of the plan, so far can be seen here.
I’m keen on social housing, I’m really keen on social housing for older people as I’m going to be in the position of needing it in about 20 years time and I’ve seen the difference that having a secure place to live has made for Ma.
So it’s really difficult to look at the proposals and say ‘this is wrong’. It’s only 10%, its for old people and they’ve promised not to do anything else for 20 years, it doesn’t even directly affect my plot, there are just a couple of things that are niggling at me.
- The consultation for plot holders is tomorrow, 8 days after this was all announced and are at 12pm and 4pm on a Thursday afternoon. Each session will hold 15 people. There are 141 plots on the allotment site and lots of us will be at work.
- The allotments are a haven for wildlife (some of it much to my annoyance, I’m looking at you, spinach eating pigeons!). The hedgerow is a designated SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation), there are stag beetles on the site too. Heavy development at the top of the site is going to effect that.
- The proposals also put a new road and cars coming to the top of Loveday Road and Mattock Lane an area that already gets pretty congested because of St John’s, the St John’s Ambulance Building, the Hindu temple and the parade of shops. Which isn’t good for existing residents or the entrance to Radbourne Walk.
- Pathways feels that it won’t be a problem to find new plots for people that lose theirs in the development because there is a high turnover of plot holders. EDAS got the waiting list down from five years to two by monitoring plots and ensuring that plots got used, but there is still a 2 year waiting list. Presumably all the people on the waiting list will have to wait until after the guys losing their plots get new ones, not really fair. And even so, it’s a wrench to leave a plot you’ve worked on and improved for years to go to a plot that is probably overgrown, it’s disheartening and all the help with moving and new sheds in the world isn’t going to change that.
- I’m most concerned about further development, 20 years is not very long in the scheme of things. 40 odd years ago, the site was cut in half to build Sherwood Close because it wasn’t being used, now the site is being used and loved they’re planning on taking away 10% ish of it and in 20 years time?
- One of the main arguments that Pathways seems to be making is that they need the site to ensure that they keep the community of seniors at Dean Close together. This is a good aim but in doing that they are fracturing the community at EDAS, and it is a community. I’ve never been on site without someone saying hello, being given plants, rhubarb, advice and sometimes compliments on how I’m doing! We have volunteer days to improve the whole site and Radbourne Walk, which isn’t a dangerous dumping ground anymore, a community day to show Ealing what we’re up to and it all seems a bit pointless if our plots can be taken away just like that.
Allotments are under threat because the land doesn’t need cleaning up as a brownfield site would. I’ve always been appreciative of them but this year I’ve reaped the benefits in community, exercise, mental health and food production. I did have to wait for it and I know that a lot of people who started this year won’t continue because they didn’t realise how much work or time it took up but that frees the resource for someone else to try and if we limit the resource we’re cutting people off from the chance. But it seems shortsighted and wrong to do this, because in a city like London, once we lose the green space it’s gone. If you are local to Ealing, you can contact Pathways about this via email. More information on EDAS and the campaign to head this off, can be found here.