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Allotments at risk

Keith Parkins | 20.10.2006 16:00 | Free Spaces | Repression | Social Struggles | South Coast

Organic allotments are at risk in Eastleigh where the council wishes to destroy the allotments to make way for 470 houses. The allotment holders are digging in for a long fight to protect their organic plots.

Eastleigh Council is trying to kick allotment holders off their allotments in order that the site may be cleared to enable 470 houses to be built.

The allotment holders have said no, and have dug in for a long fight. So far it has gone through a Public Inquiry and the Secretary of State Ruth Kelly has signed off the disposal of the land.

What is happening at Eastleigh has national ramifications as it may set a precedence for the disposal of allotments.

There are three types of allotments in the UK: statutory allotments which have the protection of the Allotment Act 1925, temporary allotments, and private allotments.

The allotments in Eastleigh are statutory allotments. Statutory allotments may only be disposed of with the agreement of the Secretary of State. Allotment holders in Eastleigh are claiming Ruth Kelly has acted illegally and have filed for a Judicial Review.

Statutory allotments may only be disposed of if there is a surplus. In Eastleigh there is not a surplus, and as a consequence it is believed Ruth Kelly may have acted unlawfully.

What we are seeing in Eastleigh is conniving senior council officials with the help of malleable councillors acting with developers against the best interest of the local community. It is an exercise that is being repeated across the country.

In Liverpool, Edge Lane residents are being forced out of their homes to enable social cleansing to take place, development opportunities being created for developers on the cleared land. A spanner has now been thrown in the works thanks to homeowner Elizabeth Pascoe successfully challenging in the High Court a CPO served on her home on the grounds that her Human Rights were breached.

In Farnborough, a small housing estate of social housing, 28 maisonettes, is earmarked for demotion to make way for a car park for a superstore. The tenants of Pavilion Housing Association successfully filed a Judicial Review. The local council, the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor (as it is known locally), simply looked at the application afresh and rubber stamped it. Meanwhile, the developer, KPI (a Kuwaiti-financed St Modwen front company), has laid waste to Farnborough town centre.

Queen's Market, a highly successful century old undercover street market at Upton Park in East London in the Borough of Newham, is earmarked for destruction for a superstore and luxury flats. It was claimed by the developer St Modwen that the superstore was Asda. 12,000 people signed a petition saying no. The people of Newham have forced Asda to withdraw, they now want to drive the Developer from Hell, St Modwen, out of town. Saturday 28 October, the woman and children of Newham are planning a large demonstration against St Modwen.

In German, public housing has been sold off. Venture capital based in London has bought the housing. Community space, gardens, is now being sold off for development.

Looking to the future, we should be expanding our allotments, seeing them as part of our commitment to creating sustainable cities, not levelling them to benefit greedy property developers. There is nothing more satisfying than growing your own organic, pesticide-free food, especially if at the same time we are safeguarding traditional varieties and helping to pass on the seeds through seed swap event like the highly successful annual Seedy Sunday Brighton held every February in Brighton as part of the alternative culture in Brighton.

Note: The Regeneration Game, a documentary on DVD by Mike Lane will be available at this weekend's Anarchist Bookfair.

Reference and further reading

Lester R Brown, Plan B 2.0, Norton, 2006

Fred Harrison, Boom Bust: House Prices, Banking and the Depression of 2010, Shepheard-Walwyn, 2005

Mike Lane, The Regeneration Game, 2006 {DVD}

Sebastian Mueller, Impacts of Privatisation, September 2006 {briefing paper for London housing conference}

Keith Parkins, Seedy Sunday Brighton 2005, Indymedia UK, 8 February 2005

Keith Parkins, pathfinder schemes, Indymedia UK, 14 February 2005

Keith Parkins, Pathfinder schemes – a path to corruption?, Indymedia UK, 14 March 2005

Keith Parkins, Queens Market, Indymedia UK, 11 April 2005

Keith Parkins, Tragedy of Firgrove Court, Indymedia UK, 30 January 2006

Keith Parkins, Public Inquiry into road closures in Farnborough town centre, Indymedia UK, 30 January 2006

Keith Parkins, Seedy Sunday Brighton 2006, Indymedia UK, 13 February 2006

Keith Parkins, Curitiba – Designing a sustainable city, April 2006

Keith Parkins, Brighton, September 2006

Keith Parkins, Liverpool resident halts Pathfinder programme, Indymedia UK, 27 September 2006

Keith Parkins, London Social Forum – housing and land rights conference, Indymedia UK, 2 October 2006

Keith Parkins, Pathfinder hits the buffer, Indymedia UK, 17 October 2006

People's Market or Supermarket, The Land, Summer 2006

Pauline Rowe, Saving Queens Market from the developers, 17 October 2006

St Modwen: By Appointment to the Town Cloning Department, The Land, Summer 2006

You and Yours, BBC Radio 4, 20 October 2006


Keith Parkins
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