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**STOP PRESS**

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE DIOCESE OF COVENTRY

Wednesday 31st January 2018

Coventry Diocese has over the past decade made many threats to build houses on our Wellesbourne Allotments which been here on this site since 1840. Each time the strength of public opinion and the severe damage caused to the Churches reputation has stopped them from submitting formal planning proposals. We have a 3,000 strong petition calling for the Coventry Diocese to cease their housing development plans which would devastate our community.


We now understand that because of the strength of local opposition, they wish to re-negotiate with us a new development proposal. Click here to view the communication to the Wellesbourne Allotment chairman Ian Hope.


We strongly feel the Diocese continues to misunderstood the strength of local feeling about the destruction of our Allotments as well as to more housing in the village
It seems to us that the temptation to maximise the Church assets regardless of the human cost has a vice-like grip over Coventry Diocese. Yet another example of what happens when those responsible for managing the Church of England assets go unregulated and unchecked by Church Spiritual leaders. The Church of England stands to make millions out of sale of our allotment land. Land they have never paid a penny for, land that was gifted into their care during the Wellesbourne Enclosure Act in 1733. This first record of allotments here was in 1840, making these one of the oldest allotments in the UK.


Most who hear our story cannot believe that the Church is prepared to be so ruthless & sell our allotments to property developers. Most do not think this type of action is compatible with the values & principles of The Church. We think there is not one Christian in Midlands, from the Bishop down, who supports the devastation of our allotment community for housing.
Church of England makes £1.3bn a year, more than McDonalds & 3 x that of Starbucks, and has a £7.6bn investment fund which returns an enviable 17.1% growth per year, making the Church the 16th richest Charity in the world.


In 2014, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury recognised there was a huge ethical problem when it came to how it the Church went about maximising profits from its assets & committed himself to stopping unethical practices within The Church . He said the Church of England “…had to be more consistent between what we say and what we do,” he also added…….”but these things happen”.


Is this proposal by Coventry Diocese just another one of those 'unethical' things that happens in the name of the Church when its Spiritual leaders do not lead? They should read their own Ethical Investment Policy which dictates Church of England’s asset management" should be compatible with Christian Values"
Coventry Diocese has continually stated that as a Charity they have 2 obligations according to the Charity Commission Guidelines; to support the mission of the Church & to make best use of their assets to support that mission.


However the Charity Commission also states a Charity also has a 3rd obligation. To be a Charity your mission should also be for the public benefit. Any action which benefits the charity must not outweigh the detrimental or harmful effects its action causes to people, property & environment.


Putting housing here on our allotment land will without doubt significantly harm the people of Wellesbourne & its environment.


However, if Coventry Diocese say they need money they can raise cash from the sale of other land they own in this area.  Why single out our allotment land - as one of the few remaining valued community assets in Wellesbourne it is the jewel in the crown of the village. Wellesbourne is growing rapidly at the moment will a huge amount of new housing estates. Wellesbourne needs more community facilities like the Allotments not less.

 

Welcome to the campaign site of the Wellesbourne Allotment Association

 

 

The allotment community is based on land privately rented from the Diocese of Coventry and has been in uninterrupted use for 176 years. The site is 7 acre (just over 2.8 hectares) and we have 97 plots rented to holders & their families of all ages, maintaining a self-supporting community. We also have a very long history of supporting the wider village and surrounding areas, hosted BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time in 2015 and featured on BBC Two's "Big Dreams, Small Spaces" in 2017. The Association has held several charitable open days, raising thousands for nominated charities under the National Garden Scheme.

Our new logo above is the result of a children's competition in the village to design our future campaign image. The winner was Poppy Grace Bates of the 2nd Wellesbourne Rainbows. SOWA would like to thank Poppy for her fantastic winning entry, but also all the children who submitted entries. We really appreciate all your support.

 

What is SOWA and why does it exist?

The Diocese of Coventry has decided that they wish to sell the land upon which the allotments reside to developers and build 50 houses on the site. The Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St Peter's, the local parish church, announced that it will not object to the proposal so long as the allotment holders needs were met.  The Allotment Association feel that our needs cannot be met on another site and that the offer of two smaller and poorer pieces of land doesn’t take into account the quality and heritage of our currents site, nor the value to the village of keeping the biodiverse area in it’s present location. There was no prior engagement with WAA to assess what our needs or opinions would be regards the matter.

The committee of the Allotment Association has naturally decided that we wish to object to this development proposal. We feel that the long standing allotment community will be destroyed, our wider community contribution will be severly impacted and that the Diocese is sacrificing community for profit.

SOWA is the acronym for "Save our Wellesbourne Allotments", the campaign action to permanently block this development proposal and preserve the allotments for future generations in the village. This website will be the central repository for all our actions, news, development proposals and capaigning actions for you, the public, to participate in. We hope that you find it a useful resource.

Please contact the SOWA team with your updates and news and offers of support whilst we fight this action instigated by the Church of England Diocese of Coventry.


 

 

www.sowa.org.uk is a community action organisation initiated by the Wellesbourne Allotment Association