Winning bid of £50,000 dashes Honiton Town Council's hopes of buying more allotment land

PUBLISHED: 15:02 30 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:02 13 August 2018

Symonds & Sampsons latest auction took place on July 27 in Sherborne.

Symonds & Sampsons latest auction took place on July 27 in Sherborne.

BrianAJackson

A fresh opportunity to provide allotments for Honiton residents has been dashed - after a parcel of land sold for £50,000.

As previously reported by the Herald, Honiton Town Council (HTC) was set to chance its arm in an auction last Friday (July 27) in an attempt to purchase land at Merryfield, in Roundball Lane.

Had the authority successfully won the 1.62 acre plot, it would have been developed to provide 22 allotments.

However, a bid of £50,000 from another party won the land.

HTC is currently in the process of finalising a lease agreement with Combe Estate for a strip of grassland running alongside The Gissage river beside Battishorne Way, which would provide 30 allotments.

An application for the proposed development is yet to be considered by district planners.

Councillor Roy Coombs - who has campaigned for allotment land in Honiton for many years, said: “With the Combe Estate land, subject to the planning application going through, that will only provide 30 allotments.

“We have got a waiting list of a least 80 names, so obviously we need extra land.”

Honiton mayor Cllr Henry Brown voted against bidding for the land, as he feared it would kill any chance for the ­­council to take the freehold of Honiton’s Community Use Building (CUB) from Devon County Council (DCC).

He said: “The CUB is an acronym that can still sit on our tongues without thinking of its definite closure.

“But, the future looks bleak even when factoring in the maintained capital kept after losing the bid for the allotments site.

“We have to face two realities - the cost to bringing the site up to a usable condition, and what will DCC offer the site for?

“I, like many of you, want to keep this facility running long into the future, but the sobering morning light of the costs involved is enough to make you wince. The dream lives on, but it may be exactly that.

“Many councillors are preparing alternatives to accommodate and facilitate the groups which use the building should it be closed.

“While I recognise the need for allotments, I believe the ones we have provided through the Marker Estate is satisfactory for this time and we should broaden our gaze to the social needs of our town.

“If the search for allotments is to go on, I cannot vote for it while these needs are still not being met.”

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