Park and Ride scheme for Allotment Site?
The Lancashire Evening Post recently reported that land for a park and ride was being sought in the Penwortham area, and that one site being considered was the allotments on the A59 out of Preston.
Allotment site on A59
In the article Coun Tony Martin states "We were looking at one of the allotments down there but it is very difficult to tell people they have to go because we want to build a park and ride."
Read the whole article at Search continues for Park and Ride zone
Counsellor Martin has since emailed me to reassure all allotment holders that the site was not being considered, contrary to the report in the post, for all the reasons cited below, and more...
The allotments are not suitable for any kind of development for a number of reasons.
Allotments have the full protection of the law with regards to their development. All allotments in Penwortham are statutory sites and this means they cannot be used for any purpose other than as allotments unless it can be proven that they are surplus to requirements. There are waiting lists for all the allotment sites in Penwortham.
Allotment law is complicated but the 1925 Allotments Act established Statutory Allotments, which a local authority could not sell or convert to other purposes without ministerial consent.
This provision was strengthened in 2002 when the Planning Policy Guidance Note 17 – Sport, Open Space and Recreation was changed and the criteria clarified by adding that
The allotment in question is not necessary and is surplus to requirements
The implications of disposal for other relevant policies, in particular development plan policies, have been taken into account.
In fact the Government clearly state that
“The Government's aim is to ensure that allotments are well managed, are considered as part of the overall green infrastructure, and are only disposed of where there is no demand for them and established criteria have been met. We are committed to working with local authorities to promote best practice and ensure quality and appropriate availability now and for future generations” Department of Communities and Local Government
It is clear from this that it is not sufficient to offer an alternative site to allotment holders and that as long as the allotments have 100% occupancy and a waiting list they cannot be disposed of under current legislation.
The allotments in Penwortham are also on floodplain land. Environment Agency advice and the recently published Strategic Flood Risk Assessment for Central Lancashire identify the need to ensure ANY new developments are in Flood Zone 1 ideally, or Zone 2, not in Zone 3 which the allotments are. Concreting over floodplain will exacerbate flood risk to nearby communities as floodwater storage capacity will be reduced and surface water run off will be increased. Recent heavy rain across Britain has shown how important floodplain land is to the protection of communities.
Relieving traffic congestion in Preston is a good idea, but a park and ride site here will exacerbate traffic problems within Penwortham and could create worse traffic congestion on one of the busiest routes into and out of Preston. A site further towards the Hutton side of Penwortham would surely be a better location.
Finally, allotments have many benefits to the environment, which should not be lightly discarded. These include the benefits to the people that use the allotments – better health, both physical and mental, better diet, and more sustainable food production, including fewer travel miles for food, and benefits for the community around, including open green spaces and increased biodiversity. A biodiversity action plan was produced for Lancashire in 2007, which recognised the importance that wildlife can make to the quality of life in both rural and urban areas. Allotments are identified as important to this plan. Lancashire County Council aimed to promote lifestyle choices that can have a beneficial effect on allotment habitats and/ or associated species by ensuring that sustainable community plans at district level recognise the importance of allotments to the quality of life. Lancashire County Council Bap template for habitat action plans
For more details about Tony Martin's reply, click here.
For previous post on these allotments click here