A lot to lose

allotmentRedbridge Lane West allotments after December’s snowfall. ©Stephen Lines

In the 16th of a series of articles by plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments, Sally Parker explains her concerns following planning approval for maintenance work at the adjacent gas station

Plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments are still waiting to find out when maintenance and upgrade work at the adjacent Cadent gas station will start. Upon completion of the work, a strip of allotment land along the current Cadent boundary will be added to the neighbouring gas station site to accommodate a new security fence.

While the work is in progress, Cadent will take over part of the allotment site, including nine allotment plots. Hoardings will be erected to fence off Cadent’s building works from the remainder of the allotment site, the main gate on Redbridge Lane West and the toilets will be moved to accommodate construction traffic, new toilets and a small car park will be built and water tanks moved. All the mature trees and other greenery along the allotment’s current boundary with the gas station, together with some trees on Redbridge Lane West, will be removed.

There are 16 conditions attached to the planning approval granted by Redbridge Council in December. These cover a range of matters, including environmental provisions and protections, allotment facilities, noise mitigation, working times, construction traffic and a requirement that the allotments be reinstated within 20 months of the start of work. The site is classed as a statutory allotment, so before any work can begin, government approval is needed.

Early last year, Cadent offered several options for the nine sets of plot holders who will be losing their plots. Individual agreements were negotiated and signed in July 2022, with a view to the nine plots becoming vacant by winter 2022. Four of the affected plot holders agreed to move permanently to new plots because their current plots will be much smaller upon completion of the work. Cadent has agreed to carry out the work needed to prepare the new plots, which should have been ready last summer. Clearance work finally started last November, so work is several months behind schedule.

Shortly after the plot preparation work started, it became clear there were big differences between the agreed specifications and the work being undertaken. Just before Christmas, we learnt Cadent’s gardeners had been given inadequate specifications. The affected plot holders all complained to Cadent and on-site meetings are being organised. We are hoping our new plots will be ready in time for spring, having missed the opportunity to plant or sow overwintering crops or to get permanent plantings established.

Plot holders are disappointed with the slow progress which, together with the poor communication from Cadent, is causing unnecessary upset and concern that Cadent may not deliver on its promises when the site is reinstated after completion of the works.

For more information on Cadent’s plans, visit wnstd.com/cadentplan

Author: Editor