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CAMPAIGN UPDATE Feb 2013 - YOU HAVE YOUR SAY

WBDRA has been copied in on some of the e-mails sent to GBC. A selection of some of them has been copied in below:


Dear (GBC)

Whilst talking to my Brother in Law the other day (he lives in Broadacres) he informed me that the allotment he has worked with his children for many years is once again under threat, this time from a housing development scheme.  The allotment in question is on the Aldershot Road and I think that the development scheme is coded 'H3'.

It strikes me that in the midst of what is turning out to be a record breaking 'tripple dip' recession, that decent citizens who quietly and legally go about their everyday lives, in this case supplementing the family diet in a healthy, environmentally sound, cost effective manner, should yet again come under threat from developers.

I do, therefore, strongly oppose the proposed housing development on these allotments and fervently hope that you can find a less sensitive, more environmentally sound, site for it.

Your sincerely,

RH


Ms S (GBC)


As a North-Guildford resident and former allotment holder, I am concerned at the erosion of facilities and the regular threat of development of any land not currently in use for housing.    Allotment holding amounts to a civic right, that of being entitled to use a small proportion of public land for personal cultivation.

The system of allotments was conceived for public health benefits and contributes to the social and mental health of the holders as well as providing exercise and nutrition.   Allotments are good for the town in many ways and should not be continually under threat in the way that they appear to be.
Many people put their ‘souls’ into their plots and it is detrimental to the well-being of the holders and their families to put sites under threat.

Furthermore, considering the proliferation of housing developments which you have already permitted – often seemingly paying lip—service to or completely ignoring the concerns of residents regarding infrastructure and impact, there is little open space near the town itself for residents to live alongside the natural world.

It is a lose-lose equation to develop allotments and other open spaces in towns like Guildford – you lose all the positive impacts of allotment-holding on social cohesion, mental health and room for the community to ‘breathe’ and at the same time place yet more strain on infrastructure and reduce the quality of life of those nearby.

Your permission of development of the Queen Elizabeth Barracks site and the building of numerous properties has impacted on myself and my neighbours through noise, light reduction, increased traffic and increases in minor anti-social behaviour.   Such erosion of quality of life just does not appear to be significant to planning.

During my time in Guildford, I have seen school playing fields disappear and considerable infilling of space.   Allowing an un-required supermarket in Burpham will be the next major upheaval unwanted by local people and those who need to use the roads near there, soon after the completion of other traffic-disrupting developments in that locality.   What were the facilities that all those developers promised over the years?   How many of them were not simply traded for cash after the developments commenced?   I seem to recall that Sainsbury’s were supposed to create significant public facilities in exchange for Burpham being permitted and GBC took the cash instead.   Any promise of a quid pro quo to the people losing out gets turned into council cash – at least that is the perception and we expect that to apply to those affected by Woodside.

Why not show us that we misjudge the planners and remove the threat to Aldershot Road Allotments?

Regards

LH


Dear H (GBC)

I was very surprised to see in the LDS on page 21 that “ Woodside Road” i.e. “ top third of Aldershot Road allotment site” is still listed as a possible site for housing.

The Aldershot Road allotment site is centrally situated in Westborough with Park Barn, Broadacres, Rydes Hill and old Westborough bordering it. All of us who live here are painfully aware that Westborough is in the national lower quartile of areas defined as ''deprived''. Those of us fortunate enough to have allotments know how well they produce food and promote exercise, healthy eating and social inclusion.

The existing plot holders of AR site have already shown their value to the local community by obtaining funding from Lottery to run an educational program on site which involves mentoring children from a local school as well as providing advice and practical help for families who need help to cultivate their plots. We are not the saints of Guildford's allotment tenant base but our focus has been sharpened and our horizons broadened by the continual threat to our piece of land. When/if the whole site is returned to allotments we will continue to expand educational programs and do all we can to help lift Westborough out of this denigrating label of “deprived”.
In this we would expect the support of planners.
However, what seems to be planned for our future, by inclusion of this loss of allotment land in the new Local Plan, is a further ghettoisation of Westborough.

Until recently, I served as Secretary of Guildford Allotments Society for four years and I know that when SARP goes ahead, Guildford's biggest allotment site will be lost - to be replaced possibly by a site at Burpham. This should alleviate the waiting lists for those residents living in East Guildford but will be of no use to residents of Westborough.
Lets not exacerbate the divide in wealth, influence and pleasant environments which is one of the worst features of Guildford.

In Westborough, one third of our housing stock is lost to private landlords who let them as Houses of Multiple Occupants (HMO). These are mainly for UNIS students. We residents are subject to excessive noise and rowdiness particularly at night, and have to watch helplessly as our neighbourhoods degrade. It adds insult to injury that we have to lose more of our scant open space by building on allotment land.

The site allocations consultation of 2008 showed that no one wants housing at the top of AR site and the all allotment option is the choice of local residents.
Was this simply window dressing? Why was no change made to take cognisance of this?
I can only hope that the inclusion of “Woodside Road” on page 21 is an error. If so, could you correct it please?

Kind regards,

Beverley Mussell
Secretary WASHA


Dear Ms. S (GBC)


Whilst appreciating the need for housing,especially affordable housing for essential workers, there is also the need to ensure open space and amenity provision.

Land for allotments is a statutory requirement.

In one of our most deprived areas, Westborough Guildford Allotments Society (GAS) manages an allotment site at Aldershot Road. Not only is this site one of our most successful locations it has an effective self help/mentoring  organisation (WASHA) which has secured lottery funding. It is also actively involved in a schools programme, educating children in horticulture and as a consequence the essentials of a balanced diet in line with national objectives towards healthy eating. There is additional land on this site which could be used for allotments. Not only could this land contribute to the wellbeing of the immediate area but also provide some  space for the nearly 300 would-be allotment holders currently on our waiting list.

In the broader scheme of things I would also point out that the largest site currently managed by GAS, which administers all local allotments at considerable saving to local tax payers, is at Bellfields. This site is threatened by the Slyfield Area Regeneration Project (SARP). The suggested alternative when Bellfields is lost is at Burpham which not only fails to replace the potential lost allotment space but is also inaccessible to most of the tenants on that site.

In conclusion, any inclusion of vacant land at Aldershot Road in development plans deprives Westborough of an important social resource but also further reduces available, statutorially prescribed allotment provision in the Borough as SARP comes to fruition. It is my contention that any reduction in current allotment land in the Borough risks considerable loss of amenity provision and likely long-running social action by present and would-be allotment holders.

Yours truly

Alastair Watson, Chairman, Guildford Allotments Society



Dear Ms S (GBC)

I am emailing to register my objection to the inclusion of Housing Development on "Allotments - Woodside Road" from the 2003 Policy H3 in the new Local Development Scheme.

I am a resident of the Broadacres estate and have been so since 1981. Over those years I have seen the proliferation of housing, traffic  and people in this area of Guildford, notably through the growth of the university, hospital, research park and housing in areas such as the former barracks at Stoughton and the former schools in Barnwood. More people means there is a corresponding need for more facilities which includes roads, schools, shops, parking and of course allotments. The threat to develop part of the allotment site has been a longstanding one and during all of those years the area under threat has lain fallow, a worrying loss of facilities and recreation in this resource stretched world. Resource that could have been put to good use to the benefit of individuals and the community in general.

In common with every other resident in this area I feel that we have reached saturation point and the time has come to preserve those few green lungs that remain for the benefit of an already cheek by jowl community.

Please register my objection to any plans that leave open the option for development of the Aldershot Road/Woodside Road/Round Hill allotment site for any use other than allotments or open land for public recreation.

Yours sincerely

KS


Dear H (GBC)

RE HOUSING ON ALDERSHOT ROAD ALLOTMENT SITE.

I already voted in 2008 to have the threat of Housing removed from the Aldershot Road Allotment Site. I cannot see what else can be achieved by rolling over the 2003 H3 policy reference to "Allotments Woodside Road" into the 2013 Local Development Scheme. Please drop this part of the H3 policy now and let the site be opened up once more to more Allotment plots & Open Space" . This is what we all voted for in 2008.

In the locality this site retention as an allotment area is vital for the harmony of space, the need for activity in horticulture besides the challenge to reduce the ever present carbon foot-print.

JS


I am writing to ask that the 2003 Policy H3 reference to Housing Development on "Allotments - Woodside Road" be dropped from the new Local Development Scheme. I/my family have been plot holders on the Aldershot Road Allotment Site for some time and aware of the substantial waiting list for plots on this superb local site. We want to see the threat of Housing Development removed and to return the uncultivated part of this site for allotment use and/or much needed open space.


I already voted in 2008 to have the threat of Housing removed from the Aldershot Road Allotment Site. I cannot see what else can be achieved by rolling over the 2003 H3 policy reference to "Allotments Woodside Road" into the 2013 Local Development Scheme. Please drop this part of the H3 policy now and let the site be opened up once more to more Allotment plots & Open Space" . This is what we all voted for in 2008

Sincerely

AB

 


Sent: 04 February 2013 17:23
To: HS (GBC)
Subject: Site Allocation and Policy H3

Dear H

I am writing in respect of the above and to request that Policy H3 is
NOT saved and that the section of the Woodside Road Allotment site is removed from the site allocations.

There are so many reasons to do this and I list my comments below:

NATURE/ENVIRONMENT:

As more and more of the few open spaces in Westborough have been in-filled with housing over the last few years this in one of the few reasonably sized spaces that there is left in the area. The allotments are home to an assortment of wildlife.

Amongst other creatures there are known to be slow worms on the site (have seen these myself). Most allotment holders grow to attract bees (vital at this time of a diminishing bee population and the possible consequences) There is also a bee keeping facility on site.
Heritage fruit trees (lottery funded) are grown on the school allotmentplot. (see below re school plot) If the full site was returned to allotments there is potential  for part of that area to be used as a
community orchard. An idea that is supported by GBC.

WESTBOROUGH WARD:
This ward is the most deprived and one of the most densely populated wards in Guildford. In addition  central government is devolving the responsibility for peoples health to local government.

It should be a matter of shame for Guildford Borough Council that in a borough that is in one of the most wealthy parts of the country you have a ward that is in the most deprived national quartile and the fourth most deprived area in Surrey. It does not make sense to remove a facility that provides benefits both mentally and physically from the part of Guildford that has the poorest health. GBC should be seeking to provided more facilities and benefits of this nature within this deprived ward.

GBC's scoping document identifies that the county's outdoor recreational facilities are an important factor in encouraging healthy lifestyles and that their preservation and enhancement must be carefully balanced with the need for development. There is no balance in the Westborough ward. Returning this site fully to allotments would go some way towards
re-dressing this.

Allotments provide fresh air and exercise for the allotment holders and families. As well as the physical benefits that people get from the exercise involved in having an allotment it is well known that gardening and being involved with the natural world gives benefits to people's mental heath. You should not be removing this amenity from a ward with the poorest health in the borough.

Allotments provide  economical food not just for the allotment holders and families but at harvesting times the allotment provides free food for extended families, friends and others in the neighbouring community.

Some plot holders live in flats and this is their only access to a
garden or outside space. Others only have small gardens and therefore so have  no opportunity to grow their own vegetables.

SCOPING DOCUMENT : SA Objective 5 - To reduce poverty and social exclusion for all sectors of the community. 

Allotments achieve both objective by providing good, cheap food and community spirit.  There is a very good community spirit on the Aldershot Road Site where people help and assist one another. E.g. new plot holders who need guidance, looking after other's plots at  holiday times or in times of sickness or other difficulties In times. There are also occasional social gatherings such as barbeques.

It is not just the allotment holders who want this amenity retained but the neighbouring community.

There is a spread of  age groups holding allotments on site -
grandparents  bring their grandchildren and  young parents their
children , single people both young and old  and couples therefore the allotments benefit all age groups across society.

Westborough is a densely populated ward. Very little open space left. You should not be concreting over the little that there is .

Consider rebuilding/updating/refurbishing the appalling flats at the
roundabout by Kings Manor School.  There is the now empty  Pond Meadow school. This site is already built on, the school is no longer used. Build your houses there.

1908 ACT:

The 1908 Act - Provision of Allotments requires Councils to make
provision  a sufficient number of allotments for persons resident in the borough who desire them. GBC is already failing in their obligation under this act  as there is a waiting list of several hundred people. In addition to this a considerable number of plots will be lost at the Bellfields Allotment site in the foreseeable future. What a golden opportunity you have here to redress the balance in some part by returning the Aldershot Road site  fully to allotments.

EUROPEAN LANDSCAPE CONVENTION (2000):

Commits the UK to "recognise landscapes in law as an essential component of people's surroundings, an expression of the diversity of their shared cultural and natural heritage, and a foundation of their identity". This entire description applies to allotments. Allotments are a cultural and natural heritage and a foundation of identity of the UK.

 

EDUCATION:

Quote from Alan Titchmarsh: "Learning how things grow, from an early age (and here, the RHS Campaign for School Gardening comes to the fore) gives children a greater understanding of the wider environment and a greater responsibility for it. They will grow up with some affinity with the countryside, rather than living a life glued to mobile phones and computers"


There are lots of plots on the site where children are learning about
gardening  with their families. In addition  on this site  there is a
plot reserved for the adjacent school. Funding has been obtained Food Mentoring Project (Lottery Local Food). This project has been running successfully for four years. It provides mentors who educate Year Three children at the adjacent school in growing food.

 

**********

There are so many reasons for returning this site to the full complement of allotments and so many reasons against building houses on the site it is difficult to understand why building houses has ever been considered.

I hope you will take these points into consideration.

Kind Regards

M K




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