Further Tales and Pictures from the Riverbank and the Allotments
More local residents have been sending in their photos and concerns.
These beautiful photos are by John of Avenham, whose comments follow...
Cat taking on more than it can chew? The Geese seem unconcerned!
Railbridge at high tide from Avenham & Miller Park
Cormorant on the Ribble
‘I find the idea of transforming a peaceful riverbank environment (so near to our city) into a noisy, polluted, cash-grabbing scheme criminally shallow. As usual, a panel/committee of ignorant, self-centred numpties have created these visions. All this serves is corporate back slapping without thinking about anything else. For a start, the river is a special spot for people: it's quiet. And further downstream there's a delicate eco-system that hosts uncommon wading birds. As a result of more pollution YOU'LL END UP WITH NO BIRDS and will be the proud creators of discarded and sterile non-place, punctuated with trouble.’
Avenham resident for years.
Elaine, an allotment holder, shares all allotment holders' concerns about the apparent threat to all the allotments on the Penwortham side of the Ribble by ideas for new housing developments shown on Preston City Council's "composite masterplan":
'I am seriously concerned that the proposed development threatens our allotment site. At 139 plots Penwortham Holme West is one of the largest allotment sites in Preston and also one of the oldest. There has been allotments on this site since circa 1913. Our site has a rich and valuable heritage and history. And it is not just Penwortham Holme West which would be affected but the allotment site at Penwortham Holme East as well.
The health and social benefits of allotments and of gardening and growing your own vegetables are well known. Promotion of these benefits has finally being given support and is being widely advertised by government, local and health authorities. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has endorsed its support of allotment gardening and provision of allotment sites. Thanks to short-sited and commercially orientated decisions of many of our local authorities and the depredations of property developers many allotment sites have been sold off and built on. Once these sites go they are lost forever. Currently there is a national shortage of allotments and increased awareness of the value of sites.
Penwortham Holme allotments themselves were threatened by development when South Ribble Council proposed to build a ‘park and ride’ on the site. Following a full public enquiry in 1996, the proposals were resoundingly rejected. At the time of enquiry, Preston City Council raised formal objections! The Inspector’s report cited the importance of the allotments in terms of providing a green corridor and the rich variety of wildlife the allotments have supported.
In my 6 years as a plot holder I have never ceased to marvel at the rich diversity of wildlife and plants that the site supports. The site supports a multitude of birdlife including hawks, finches, and the ubiquitous robins, bats, toads and frogs, ducks, weasels, rabbits, mice and voles (not to mention our allotment cat). The fact that this site and its infrastructure has been used for allotment growing over such a long and continuous period has allowed plant and wildlife unique opportunities to thrive and develop alongside the tenants, and allotment growing gives tenants a unique opportunity to observe it.
It is also a thriving social community – there can be few places where people of all backgrounds, ethnicity, religions and ages mix on a day to day communal basis. The social aspects and the diversity and richness of allotment life cannot be over emphasized. For many tenants with no garden at home, the allotment is the only regular opportunity of connecting with nature, of gardening and of getting out in the fresh air in a rural environment. Plots are not just for vegetable production, but are also used for social, health, and leisure purposes by tenants and their families.
Preston City Council has recently spent thousands of pounds clearing up and bringing parts of the site that were neglected, overgrown and impossible to let back in to use. Thanks to the unstinting efforts of our Site Secretary, our site is currently fully tenanted and we have a waiting list. The tenancy profile of the plot has changed markedly and many of our tenants are women and families whose children are reaping the educational and health benefits of growing and eating vegetables and understanding the link between nature, growing and producing food and healthy eating. It therefore beggars belief that the same Council that has devoted time and resources to regenerating the site now finds that it is expendable – especially when the publicity for the proposed Riverworks projects cites social and environmental benefits as a motivation for the development. I am deeply concerned that our allotments may be under threat. It is not just current tenants who could be affected but future generations who would be deprived of a unique and valuable opportunity. Allotments are a priceless and irreplaceable community asset.'
Allotments by the Ribble
Keep sending in your views, and your alternative visions for the future of the Ribble and Green Belt environment.