A lot to lose

IMG_20220815_124640©Stephen Lines

In the 14th of a series of articles by plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments – which are under threat from the adjacent gas works – Sally Parker takes a look at Cadent’s planning application

Those of you who have been following the story of our 18-month battle with global gas giant Cadent will know we have been successful in preventing them from taking over the whole site while they carry out upgrade work on their adjacent gas station. They are, nevertheless, planning to use nearly a quarter of the allotment site for the duration of their works, with a slice of allotment land along the current boundary being permanently added to the Cadent site. 

Cadent submitted their planning application to the council in early August, with a deadline at the end of that month for comments. The application is for ‘Installation of new fencing upgrades at the existing Gas Transmission Station facility off Redbridge Lane’, but additional works, which are not part of the planning application, include upgrading pipework and ladders in an inspection pit on the allotment. The new fence will be much higher than the current one and will be electrified with CCTV. It will require the removal of all trees, bushes and other greenery, as well as the seven allotment plots along the boundary. Two other plots will also be taken out of commission for the two-year duration of the works, currently scheduled to start between April and June 2023.

The nine plot holders who will be losing their land have negotiated individual agreements with Cadent. Upon completion of the work, we had been told that four of these plots will be permanently reduced in size. However, the planning application appears to show that six plots will be affected and we have queried this, among a number of other details.

Fortunately, four of the plot holders whose plots will be smaller after the work has finished are being moved to other vacant plots on the site. This is at a time when allotment plots are in very short supply. Waiting lists for local authority allotments are at an all-time high and many sites have been closed. A total of 41 have shut for good in London since 2013, according to a 2020 study by Imperial College. Allotments remain in such short supply that, in many cases, people are having to wait years to get one.

Cadent has told us they will leave our allotment site as a whole in a better condition than before. We don’t yet have any specific details about what this will mean in practice and hope our environmental concerns will be fully addressed. 

From the outset, none of us plot holders have been opposed to necessary upgrade works. We are just very sad that Cadent hasn’t been able to find a less intrusive way of carrying out their plans. We are not looking forward to the next two years of inevitable noise and disruption while the work is being done, and wish we had all been left to enjoy our plots in peace – with everything that means.

For more information on the planning application, visit wnstd.com/cadentplan