No objection to allotments

Martyn Harris (Opinion last week) continues to believe that the registration of Littletown Green in Honiton Bottom Road was all about preventing allotments in Honiton. Campaigns to protect this field as public open space actually go back 16 years – well before anyone suggested allotments for the site.

In point of fact I actually wish Mr Harris and his allotment campaign well. My objection is not to allotments, even allotments next to my home, but to the use by councils of dubious methods to bypass the legal protection of our open spaces – both green spaces and allotments.

Honiton was once well off for allotments and open spaces. All of the allotments and many of the green spaces have been built on despite local protests. East Devon District Council (EDDC) gave planning permission for all these buildings; the same authority is responsible for safeguarding our open spaces.

Turning green-field sites into allotments is seen by some as a way of making them into ‘brown-field’ sites. Selling off these sites for development provokes less public outcry than selling green field sites. Some allotment holders may protest but, as in the past in Honiton, this cuts little ice.

The legal sleight of hand by which EDDC included allotments in the covenants for this land appears to have bypassed proper planning authority. This raises questions about the underlying legality of the later planning permission for allotments.

Registration as a green does not exclude allotments as Mr Harris claims. It requires councils to provide the community with an equivalent open space to replace land taken for allotments. The law that protects ‘statutory allotments’ is very similar. It’s good law; it makes councils more answerable for the protection of our open spaces and makes it harder for politicians and officials to finagle.

Alan Kimbell

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