A lot to lose

20240104_105442_resized_1Wildlife pond at the Redbridge Lane West allotments

In the 18th of a series of articles charting Cadent’s impact on Redbridge Lane West allotments, Sally Parker is frustrated by delays to the planned works, which received Secretary of State consent last month 

It’s six months since I last wrote about plans by Cadent, the energy infrastructure company, to carry out works to their gas station on Redbridge Lane West, next to our allotments.

After many months with no updates, Cadent held a drop-in session in late November 2023 to “provide an opportunity for all local residents to learn more about the project and ask questions.” Some plot holders were able to attend, together with our local ward councillor and the National Allotment Society’s London representative. It was, in many ways, an unsatisfactory event, as Cadent were unable to provide meaningful answers to our questions, which included how they will comply with all the planning decision conditions, provide safe access to our plots during the work and provide equivalent facilities, including accessible toilets. These are important for everyone who uses the allotments but are especially vital for Sprout There!, a charity for adults with disabilities. We were promised a reply before Christmas.

A response arrived on 22 December, but frustratingly, the answers were mostly non-committal, with repeated statements that Cadent is working closely with the council. And it appears that all hangs on a government decision regarding the application for approval of Cadent’s plans under Section 8 of the 1925 Allotments Act. As I write, Cadent has just told us approval has come through and they “will be working with our delivery partners to establish the construction timeline.” They promise a further update in mid-February.

So, three years on from Cadent announcing their plans to us, we still don’t know when the work will start – or when it will finish. We don’t know when allotment plots decommissioned at Cadent’s request since summer 2022 to make way for the pending works will be reinstated. The plot holders who agreed to take a break for two years are unlikely to be able to return to their restored plots before 2026, five years after Cadent first told us about their plans. They have lost several harvests.

Cadent’s project is programmed to take two years, so it will be difficult to complete the works within the government’s regulatory period of 2021–2025. Cadent appear to have underestimated the complexities of carrying out this project on statutory allotment land and, in particular, the requirement to consult the National Allotment Society and obtain consent from the Secretary of State.

For those of us lucky enough to be able to still work our plots, it is disheartening to be alongside the abandoned – and now overgrown – vacated areas. Such a waste of valuable gardening space. I hope a clear programme will be drawn up soon, and the work expedited in a timely and considerate fashion in line with all of Cadent’s promises.

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

Author: Editor