Monthly Archives: June 2012

Ashampstead Road

Ashampstead Road Gate


Ashampstead Road allotments are like an enormous garden extension surrounded and overlooked on three sides by houses and on the fourth by garages. This gives the site its unique character. You would hardly know that the allotments were there.

Strawberries

Rhubarb

Southcote was built in the early 1950’s to help cope with Reading’s post-war housing shortage (1). The allotments are visible in aerial photographs of Southcote (2) and first appear on maps in 1959.

A perfectly organised allotment

They are stones throw from the site of Southcote Manor. The decline of the Manor can be tracked on Ordnance Survey maps since 1877. Most of the house was demolished in 1921 (3) and on 1932 maps it is marked “remains of” but the moat can still be clearly seen as it can be today. Eventually redevelopment creeps around it and the site itself is redeveloped.

Southcote Manor today

Southcote Manor had a period of horticultural importance when it was in use as a trial ground for Suttons Seeds. From 1904 it was rented for experimental trials. In particular an extensive potato trial was carried out in 1906 and an open day held in October to which experts were invited to examine the results. The use of the site continued into the first world war (4).

FACT PANEL

No. of plots: (5) 9
Full plot equivalent: (5) 5.8
Date allotments established: before 1955
Date taken on by Council: before 1955
Previous use: unknown, open land
Status: (6) Temporary

References

 

(1)    The Story of Reading, Daphne Philips. Countryside Books, 1983.

(2)    Aerial view over the Southcote housing estate, Reading, looking westwards in 1955, photograph by Aero Pictorial, numbered A25127. Reading Library Local Studies Collection, Horizon no: 1241192

(3)    The Story of Reading, Daphne Philips. Countryside Books, 1983. In an article in the Berkshire Archaeological Journal, Excavation at Southcote Manor Reading, 1964; C.F.Slade documents the work carried out and the findings before the site was redeveloped. He gives a date of 1926 for the demolition.

(4)    Suttons Seeds, A History 1806-2006. Earley Local History Group.

(5)    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.

(6)    Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.

© Evelyn Williams 2012

PDF here:16 Ashampstead Road

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Allotments

Ardler Road

ARDLER ROAD

The gate to Ardler Road allotments

Ardler Road allotments, first in the alphabetic order of Reading Allotments, are the smallest allotment site in Reading. It is a wonder that they have survived, since their establishment in 1940. The site was offered by the Highways Committee; two pieces of land of 18 and 15 poles (1). They have all the accoutrements of a Reading allotment site – a sign, a locked gate (or two) and their own special character.

Ardler Road colour scheme

“CARD HOLDERS ONLY”. The first mention found of the issuing of cards was in April 1918, “..for production when called upon to show that he is the authorised cultivator of the plot indicated thereon.”(2). Allotment Holder’s Identification Cards are still issued by the council and Plot Holders are required to carry it on going to the allotment. The next month the committee decided that no children were to allowed on allotments unless accompanied by an adult and no dogs (3).

Green crops

Crops were thriving and the occupiers had their own preference on the colour scheme for allotment furniture.

Allotment no. 2

Allotment supply in Reading falls short of demand. Reading Borough Council publishes waiting list figures on a regular basis. The figures from the end of April for allotments managed by Reading Borough Council show a total waiting list of 749, analysed by allotment site (4).

Table 15.1 Number of applications on the Reading Borough Council allotments’ waiting list at 27 April 2012 (4).

Representing this data graphically gives the following picture.

Graph 15.1 Numbers of applications on the Reading Borough Council allotments waiting list at 27 April 2012 (4).

 

Ardler Road has a waiting list of 31. The shortest waiting list was 5 at Lower Southcote and the longest waiting list was 89 at Henley Road. To make sense of these statistics it is useful to compare the waiting list with the number of plots on each site The number of plots on each site is based on adjusted 2008 data and so is not contemporaneous with the timing of the waiting list, but is sufficiently comparable to indicate the approximate position (5). There are three ways of looking at the number of plots. The first is the actual number of plots on the site (let and vacant) and the second two are the theoretical number of plots represented as either “full plot equivalent” (a plot of 10 rods or 250 sq.m. being a full plot) or as “half plot equivalent” (a plot of 5 rods or 125 sq.m.) Reading Borough Council’s current policy is to let most allotments as half plots either when creating new allotments or as and when full plots are given up by their tenants.

Using these “baselines” to understand the waiting list, Ardler Road has by far the longest waiting list: 517%, 816% or 408% of plots respectively. Lower Southcote has the shortest: 8%, 11% and 5% respectively (5).

Representing these statistics graphically gives the following picture.

 

Graph 15.2 Numbers of applications on the Reading Borough Council allotments waiting list at 27 April 2012, as a % of plots on the site (5).

As it is possible to apply for an allotment at more than one Reading allotment site, it would not be correct to state that the 749 applications of April 2012 represented 749 applicants.

In their publication of allotment waiting lists, the Council also publishes a statistic representing the anticipated wait in months for an allotment. This is length of time that the applicant at the top of the list has been on the waiting list. The shortest wait in months was at Circuit Lane: 7, and the longest wait in months: 71 at Ardler Road (6).

Nationally, surveys have taken place on allotment waiting lists and been reported in the press. In May 2011 a report was produced by Transition Town West Kirby in conjunction with the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (7). This was the third such survey, the others being carried out in 2010 and 2009. Information was collected from 323 city, borough, and district councils and unitary authorities (“primary authorities”) in England in January 2011, using freedom of information requests.

The overall results were a waiting list of 86,787; total plots of 152,442 and for Reading a waiting list of 710 and total plots of 1,293 (8). In terms of a benchmark, the statistic used is number on the waiting list per 100 plots. Overall for England there are 57 applicants per plot, for Reading 55 applicants per plot; or the waiting list represents 57% of the available plots nationally, 55% in Reading (9).

There are inherent difficulties in the interpretation of statistics, the size of plots and ability to apply for an allotment at more than one site have already been mentioned. The writers of the survey report also mention the following: long waiting lists may deter applicants, applicants may only decide to withdraw from the waiting list when they are offered an allotment and waiting lists may be closed by the authorities and that the survey only covered “principle” authorities. In relation to the final point it is noted, that allotments may be provided by other tiers of local government, councils leasing land to independent allotment societies, independent trusts, public bodies other than councils and private landowners (10).

 

FACT PANEL

No. of plots: (11) 6
Full plot equivalent: (11) 3.8
Date allotments established: 1940
Date taken on by Council: unknown
Previous use: Occupied by the Highways Committee
Status: (12) Temporary

References

(1)    Allotments and Small Holdings Committee 14 February 1940. R/AC1/3/74. (BRO)

(2)    Small Holdings Committee and Allotments Committee 12 April 1918. R/AC1/3/20. (BRO)

(3)    Small Holdings Committee and Allotments Committee 10 May 1918. R/AC1/3/20. (BRO)

(4)    Data derived from Allotment Availability: http://www.reading.gov.uk/residents/naturalenvironment/allotments.

Accessed 11 June 2012.

(5)    The number of plots on each site was based on – 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.

The number of plots includes “areas let” and “vacant” plots at the time of this report. The number of plots at Bulmershe and Scours Lane have been adjusted by 68 half plots that the report indicated would be brought into use in the following season. The assumption has been made that these were included in the full plot equivalent within this document. The half plot equivalent has been calculated from the full plot equivalent.

(6)    Data derived from Allotment Availability: http://www.reading.gov.uk/residents/naturalenvironment/allotments.

Accessed 11 June 2012.

(7)    National data from “Allotment Waiting Lists in England 2011”, published May 2011. Margaret Campbell and Ian Campbell, Transition Town West Kirby in conjunction with the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners.

(8)    For comparative purposes, the data used for the allotment by allotment comparisons for Reading were total plots 1265 and waiting list 749.

(9)    Reading data from. http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/nov/10/allotments-rents-waiting-list?INTCMP=SRCH

Accessed 11 June 2012.

This gives a summary of results + a link to the detailed responses from each “principal” authority contacted as well.

(10)  “Allotment Waiting Lists in England 2011”, published May 2011. Margaret Campbell and Ian Campbell, Transition Town West Kirby in conjunction with the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners. (Introduction)

(11)  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.

(12)  Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.

© Evelyn Williams 2012

PDF version here: 15 Ardler Road

Leave a comment

Filed under Allotments

Temporary v Statutory


Cow Lane

The 1925 Allotment Act introduced the distinction between “temporary” and “statutory” allotments, which still exists today.

Statutory allotments are those where the land was acquired specifically for the purpose of allotments. A change of use requires the approval of the Secretary of State (SoS) (currently this is SoS for Communities and Local Government) under section 8 of the 1925 Act. The SoS must be “… satisfied that adequate provision will be made for allotment holders displaced by the action of the local authority or that such provision is unnecessary or not reasonably practicable”.

Reading’s recent loss of Cow Lane, a statutory allotment site, to the Reading Station Area Redevelopment Programme illustrates this process in action.

On 1 and 2 July 2009, a public inquiry was held under S 11. of the Transport and Works Act 1992. The inspector’s report summarises that there had been 24 objections to elements of the scheme. Of these there were 20 from owners of land affected by compulsory acquisition proposals and these had all been withdrawn by the time of the inquiry. The four remaining objections were from Cow Lane allotment tenants, two of whom attended the inquiry. Consequently, the allotments remained the one contentious issue of this proposal. A whole section of the Inspector’s Report (8.5) covers, “The effect of the proposed compulsory acquisition of allotment sites at Cow Lane on the availability of allotments in the Reading area” (1).

Reading Borough Council had already given the allotment holders notice to quit, which expired in April 2009, before the inquiry took place. Compensation was paid by Network Rail. The site was abandoned and looked very lonely and desolate in 2010 when building of the new depot had not yet started.

Cow Lane allotments before the building of the new depot started

The transport logistics, both road and rail around Cow Lane were important to the rail redevelopment proposals. There are two rail bridges at Cow Lane and they represent road travel bottlenecks. Two options were considered for this area. One involved the closure of Cow Lane; the other allowed Cow Lane to remain open and to be improved as a thoroughfare. The latter was included in the final proposal, but the first would also have impacted the allotments site. In the final proposal, the allotments were required for the building of a new train care depot, which could accommodate longer trains than the existing High Operating Output Base, (HOOB), at Reading. There were other possible sites for this base, Swindon, Oxford, Didcot or Southall; but Reading was preferred (2).

The allotment holders objections centred around the options for siting of the train care depot, the environmental impact of the closure of the allotment site and the impact on allotment availability in Reading.

In relation to allotment availability in Reading, allotment holders from Cow Lane were largely accommodated on land brought into use at Scours Lane, where 63 additional allotment plots were created within the existing boundary to enable this. First, does this really constitute a replacement, and second, against a backdrop of lengthening waiting lists in the borough should new land have been designated? New plots on existing land, are often a possibility and this is not without an overhead to Reading Borough Council, although Network Rail paid for the cost of these replacement plots. The Inspector’s report considered that the matter of overall allotment provision in Reading, and whether the replacement plots were “genuine replacement plots”, were “not matters either for NR or for the SoS” and goes on to state, “There is no net loss as a result of the proposed acquisition.” Later the report goes on to say, “Even if it were concluded that there would be a net loss…..fall significantly short of outweighing the very clear public benefits…” (3).

Application had been made to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to sell 1.99 hectares of allotment land, (of which 1.5 hectares was required for the Programme); and approval was given on 15 June 2009 (4), before the inquiry took place.

Cow Lane was a large site with 52 plots, 50 full plot equivalents (5) when the closure was planned. It was probably the 5 acre site that the Allotments Committee resolved to purchase as permanent allotments in 1955 (6). It is adjacent to the Reading Festival site and this caused some security and vandalism issues (7). Plot holders (the site is not specified) were not slow to see the possibility of damage from the Festival of Reading which commenced in 1971 and requested compensation from the committee should this arise (8).

The new train care depot being built in 2012

In the light of the loss of the land, the council considered other allotment options including new sites on Portman Road and Richfield Avenue, very close to Cow Lane, providing up to 41 plots (9). Apparently no tenants were interested in this option (10). The pressure on allotment provision in the borough was also recognised.

The experience of Reading and Cow Lane allotments is illustrative of the various facets of the termination of allotment tenancies: notices to quit, the provision of compensation, as well as the planning process and the procedure for approval of sale of allotment land.

Protests against the closure of the allotments were reported in the Reading Post in September 2007 (11). Allotment owners met surveyors at the site, erected a banner and handed out leaflets. There was another reported protest in October which also covered wider housing and green space issues when the Thames Valley Innovation Conference at Green Park was gatecrashed (12).

The example which made the national media in the last few years, related to Manor Garden allotments, in London, a similar sized site which was required in 2007, as part of development of the site for the London Olympics (13).

In 2011, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham decided to make all its existing allotment sites Statutory Allotment Land, the council issued a press release, “Allotments in Barking and Dagenham are safer from the threat of redevelopment after the council decided to give them extra protection” (14).

While there is no doubt that statutory allotment land is more protected than temporary allotments, the marginal nature of the land on which many allotments are situated can put it at high risk of redevelopment despite this.

REFERENCES

(1)    Network Rail (Reading) (Land Acquisition) Order, Report to the Secretary of State for Transport.

Ref TWA/08/APP/08. 28 July 2009, published 28 September 2009, available at: webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20091002212923/http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/twa/ir/.

The accompanying decision letter, published 25 September 2009 is available at:

webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20091002212923/http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/twa/dl/

(2)    Section 3.7 of The Report.

(3)    Section 8.5 of The Report.

(4)    Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government decision letter, 15 June 2009.

(5)    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.

(6)    Allotments Committee 18 July 1955. R/AC1/3/119. (BRO)

(7)    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.

(8)    Allotments Committee 23 June 1971. R/AC1/3/151. (BRO). The Festival first took place in Reading in 1971.

(9)    April 2008, Report to Cabinet by Director of Environment Culture and Sport. Allotment Provision and Plane Update.

(10)  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.

(11)  Reading Post September 17 2007.

http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/2015224_protest_over_allotment_land. Accessed 4 June 2012.

(12)  Reading Post October 17 2007.

http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/2016457_business_hears_voice_of_the_people. Accessed 4 June 2012.

(13)  See http://www.lifeisland.org.uk for a full list of links to national media and press coverage and more.

(14)  http://www.barking-dagenham.gov.uk/News/PressReleases/Pages/AllotmentProtection.aspx. Accessed 4 June 2012.

© Evelyn Williams 2012

PDF here: 14 Temporary v Statutory

Leave a comment

Filed under Allotments