Should we be building on allotment land to ease the housing crisis?

The clear and definitive answer from residents in Havering was ‘No’. In fact, not only did these east London residents vehemently object to the building of properties on allotment land but they also argued that we need more allotment land and green spaces across the capital.

For anyone who does not live in London or any of its thirty two London boroughs, you will be unfamiliar with just how much green space has actually been removed to build flats or unsightly, ugly tower blocks. The two leading parties will happily blame each other like a Wimbledon final, but the end result is these flats are being built in every possible nook and cranny. As a matter of fact anyone visiting London for the first time will quite easily mistake it for a huge building site.

Sadly, what we are witnessing is the destruction of our wildlife. Squirrels running wild with no where to go because all the trees have been cut, foxes coming into inner London because their habitat has been destroyed, but who cares? Clearly not City Hall, don’t see him out in the allotments growing vegetables or out in parks visiting our wildlife. We do however, see him in photographs smiling next to new flats being built.

A recent report stated that allotment land might well be the next much needed land used to provide the space for more houses. According to an article ‘In Your Area’, ‘Greater London is home to the most allotment new build potential with over seven million square metres of allotment space and able to facilitate 95,575 new homes at a market value of £50.3 billion.

So there you have it Havering, your allotments are in potential danger. Havering has a lot of allotment land that is very well used by our communities. Yesterday, the Havering Daily asked our readers their views on this and we were overwhelmed with the very clear answer that they community do not want to lose their allotment.

Residents actually want more allotment space as working outdoors has a multitude of positive results including the improvement of mental health.

Sue Ospreay a Rainham community champion who has been fighting for more allotment space in Rainham, sent the following message:

Sue Ospreay and her clear message to anyone wanting to build on allotment land.

Sue’s message was echoed right across our community.

Head of Romford Labour Angelina Leatherbarrow told the Havering Daily:

“The Council must unequivocally commit to protect allotments. They should be instructing the huge developers coming in to the borough to create even more community gardens within their housing plans, not selling them off. Some local allotments have waiting lists for years so there is clearly a need. 

“In Romford we have thousands of flats being built over the next decade, that’s thousands of families with no access to their own green space. If lockdown has taught us anything its that access to outdoor activity such as gardens or allotments plays a massive role in mental health and wellbeing.  Allotments are a great way to teach children about growing and eating healthily, the preschool that my children went to, kept an allotment for the kids to experience this. Why is it that again and again its the poorest families in the borough taking the biggest hit for developers to come and make their money.”

Our green spaces are vital to our well being and for our wildlife and such they must be protected.

Elm Park Councillor Barry Mugglestone told the Havering Daily:

“I don’t have one, my mum was the secretary of the Dunningford allotments, so from a young age I knew how valuable they was, it was hard work but rewarding, it was also a good community and family experience. So to lose any of them would be a disaster.”

I think the response from residents is definitive, the answer is no we should not be building on allotment land and we should actually be protecting our green spaces and what little of our wildlife is left.

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