Allotment debate in Honiton

Plans for allotments in Honiton sparks debate at annual town meeting.

LACK of allotments in Honiton caused heated debate at the annual town meeting.

The possible loss of land in Honiton Bottom Road for town council-run allotments was raised during the public question time.

Paul Kiddle, chairman of Honiton Allotment Association, asked the council to clarify the current situation.

Planning permission for the allotments was granted - but, subsequently, an application by residents was approved for the site to be designated a village green.

Councillor Vivienne Ash said that East Devon District Council had agreed to hold a meeting to discuss the issue, which she hopes will give a definitive answer on the matter.

Mayor Peter Fleming added: “It is a funny part of the law which, at the moment, we don’t no whether we can have allotments on a village green. One side says we can, others say no – we need it to be clarified, one way or the other.”

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Mr Kiddle said: “We have waited five years to get to this situation. If we wait for another green field site that is suitable, we will spend another five years waiting for allotments. It won’t stop any individual making an application for a village green.”

He added: “I would like to make an appeal to any local landowners, or farm owners, in a five mile radius if they have got any field or open space we could use for allotments.

“We are determined to get allotments in Honiton – we are not going to wait another five years.”

During the meeting Councillor John Taylor said is was important to be inclusive.

He said: “We have to consider not just what you want, but the rest of the community.

“We need to be careful about what we are doing; we don’t want to disenfranchise the allotment association, dog owners or anyone – the land has multiple usages, which impacts on others using the land.”

He added: “It will be very difficult to put allotments on that land, as anybody can object to it. A can of worms is being opened.”

Questions were also raised about a notice that had been put up in the area thanking people for supporting the village green application.

Councillor Fleming told the meeting that it has not been done through the council.

Councillor Mike Allen, who, as an individual, was one of those to apply for village green status, said: “I want to make it crystal clear, I put in a notification to the town and district councils, who openly debated the matter, but I was told I couldn’t because it was a prejudicial issue as far as I was concerned.

“I left the room and that was the situation.

“The town green application was legally open to discussion.

“There was one objection.”

Mr Kiddle said: “If we knew we had to put in an objection we would have done so.”

Resident Sue Kiddle raised concerns over the health and safety of those using the village green and questioned whether there should be a banning order on dogs using the area.

The council said they would look into this further.