20 Sept 2013
Community Asset application
As part of our campaign to save our allotments the committee has applied for the allotments to be granted 'Community Asset' status. Unfortunately the CBC Officers have recommended the application be refused and have found some legalistic justifications.
Below is a copy of the email sent to all councillors by the committee to support our view.
I am writing you on behalf of the Roeshot Hill Allotment Association Committee on the matter of designating our site as a Community Asset.
The Resources Committee is due to consider an application by a number of allotment holders at its meeting of 25th September, and we have just learned that the Council’s Officers will be recommending that you should reject the application. Before you meet however we want to let you know that it is not just the allotment holders that consider this site to be of community value but that this view is also reflected though the site having recently been awarded a 2013/14 Green Flag Community Award, one of only nine such awards made in the whole of south-west England under a scheme that is ultimately sponsored by the Department of Communities and Local Environment. We were pleased to have Christchurch’s Mayor, Cllr Lofts with us at our recent Annual Show to announce the award to our members. We passed the Green Flag inspection with the second highest banding and this is the second successive year that we have won the award. A copy of the inspector’s current report is attached for your perusal, and we draw your attention to his closing comments which are extremely favourable towards the current site.
As you are probably aware, the Roeshot Hill Allotment Site is the largest in the Borough and we have more than 200 plot-holders who live in all parts of Christchurch, who are proud of their site, and wish to retain it and its community spirit. While we recognise the need for additional housing development within Christchurch we believe that it is possible for the allotments to co-exist with housing development at Roeshot Hill, and this was indeed the preferred option by far as expressed by respondents to the consultation put out by the Council. Retention of allotments on the site will be of benefit not only to existing plot-holders and those on our waiting list, but also to some of those who will come to live on the new development. The site can be safeguarded by confirmation of its being one of Community Value and we are looking to you to see if there is some way that this can be achieved. Please note that we are seeking advice from the National Association of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners as to the validity of the Council Officers’ grounds for objection as we are aware that they have helped other sites obtain listing as Community Assets. We are also concerned that the Officers’ objection is based on the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which pre-dates and therefore could not have anticipated the provisions of the Localism Act 2011, upon which our application is based.
In addition to the obvious benefits of growing your own food, the allotments provide a community for our members, help with physical exercise and with mental well-being. Without assistance from the council we have adapted plots to facilitate use by less well-abled persons and, with our trading hut and café facilities, we provide a meeting place that helps social contact for current and past ‘allotmenteers’ who sometimes just drop in for a chat. Although the Council is considering alternative sites in the event that we have to move, this would inevitably mean a break-up of our community, especially when you consider such things as our age profile (although, of course, we welcome people of all ages) and the much reduced availability of public transport at alternative sites under consideration.
We would be pleased to show you around the site, and provide you the opportunity to speak with our members. A call in advance to our secretary, Alan Ruck or me is all that is needed. Our peak-time for activity is Sunday mornings, when we can also offer you tea and light
refreshments in the café.
D M Cort for the Committee, Roeshot Hill Allotment Association
If you have any contacts within Christchurch Borough Council, please do whatever you can to support our view! - or we may be steamrollered out of the way!
The Application was refused on the grounds that, as a Council provision, the legal advice was that the allotments were not eligible to be considered for Community Asset status.