Defra allocated £270,000 (1), which works out at £30,000 per plot, for remediation works on this site that had been contaminated by Benzo[a]Pyrene. Consequently when I visited in 2010 the allotments were as good as new.
Reading Borough Council’s “RECORD OF THE DETERMINATION THAT LAND, KNOWN AS GEORGE STREET ALLOTMENTS, READING IS CONTAMINATED LAND” under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 78B was dated 16 September 2008. The source of the contamination was not obvious and was recorded as possibly due to the use of the site as allotments and previous domestic use for ash disposal. An allotment holder had alerted the council to the sight and smell of pollutant. It recorded that, “Concentrations of benzo(a)pyrene within the topsoil were generally found to be six times the ENVIROS screening value (ESV) for allotments, however in the area known to have been impacted by railway runoff concentrations are up to sixteen times greater”. Although there is no set level for the presence of benzo(a)pyrene, a carcinogenic substance, the guidance was that levels should be kept as low as possible. Significantly, and thoughtfully, the council concluded, “Rather than prolonging the sense of uncertainty and hardship felt by the allotment holders, it is the decision of Reading Borough Council to make the determination using the currently available guidance” (2).
The site is not large and is really squeezed in between the railway line and housing at the end of Great Knollys Street. Before this site was managed by the council it was already an allotment site run by a tenant on council land under the management of the Markets and Estates Committee. The allotments are not marked on the 1912 Ordnance Survey map, although the plot of land is clear. In 1925 the site passed to the management of the allotments and small-holdings committee which gave the allotment holders new tenancies (3). Allotments are marked on the 1931 edition of the map.
© Evelyn Williams 2012
|No. of plots: (4)||9|
|Full plot equivalent: (4)||6.7|
|Date allotments established:||pre-1925|
|Date taken on by Council:||1925|
(1) Cabinet Minutes 1 June 2009 available at: committee.reading.gov.uk/TROVEPROGS/TROVEIIS.DLL?/IS=810547951/LI=Committee+Minutes+Library/ID=40/OS=105/DI=4162/DS=4168/LO=1/RW=1366/RH=768/CD=24/VD=committee/WV=7/ST=ac/AC=AP/FI=502/HU=http:++www.reading.gov.uk+council+councillors-and-committees+committees+committee-minutes-library+
(2) GeorgeStreetAllotmentsDetermination170908.pdf available at:
(3) Allotments and Small Holdings Committee 14 December 1925. R/AC1/3/36. (BRO)
(4) November 2008 Report to the Green City and Open Spaces Forum, 19 November 2008. Allotment Provision and Plan Update. Director of Environment Culture and Sport.
(5) Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.
PDF version here:12 George St