We’ll not lose the plot!
Wellesbourne Allotment Association plotholders voted overwhelmingly
last night (January 15) to reject a proposal by Coventry Diocese
which would potentially see part of the historic site being developed.
The vote was made at the first recorded extraordinary general
meeting held by the association in its history. There was an 82%
turn out. 98% of votes cast were to reject the proposal. Chair
of Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council Anne Prior attended
as an independent observer.
Chair Ian Hope said: “We asked plotholders to consider
written proposals from the Diocese which would open the way for
part of the land to be developed in return for land adjoining
the current allotments adjacent to the flood plain and an offer
not seek to further develop on allotment land for 25 – 50
years – the equivalent of just one or two generations. These
proposals were made in a letter to the association and no formal
planning application has yet been made.
“Plotholders expressed a number of wide ranging views and
concerns and overwhelmingly agreed to reject the proposal and
to continue to fight to remain on land where local people have
been growing their own food for more than 180 years.
“We are informing the diocese of the results of the vote.
We have offered to buy the land at agricultural rates which would
help secure the allotments for the community in perpetuity. The
Diocese has rejected that concept but in light of our overwhelming
support we would very much hope they reconsider and instead help
us to develop what is recognised universally as a much valued
Vote on future of our allotments
All Wellesbourne Allotment Association Plotholders should now
have received a letter giving notice of the Extraordinary General
Meeting (EGM) being held at Wellesbourne Village Hall on Wednesday
16 January at 7pm
The meeting will table the offer we have now received from Coventry
Diocese, give a chance for discussion and ask whether you wish
to accept or reject the offer. A copy of the offer was emailed
to all plotholders on 21st November together with a letter from
Chair Ian Hope.
This is the first EGM to have been held for more than 20 years
and is vital to the future direction of Wellesbourne Allotments.
Please attend and bring your ballot paper with you. One vote per
registered plot holder! If you cannot make the meeting please
return your ballot paper as per the instructions in the letter
by 15 January
June 2018 Position statement
On 21 May 2018, Diocesan Secretary Ruth Marlow informed us the Glebe Committee would be meeting later that week and would be discussing the allotments and in particular whether to sell options to develop on half the Allotment Association plots while offering us adjoining farmland (part of which is flood plain) together with some as yet unspecified security of tenure.
Ruth Marlow also responded to an enquiry whether the Diocese would sell the freehold of the current site to the Allotment Association at agricultural value:
On 25 May Ruth Marlow duly reported back from the meeting of the Glebe Committee stating: “…..members consider the request from the allotment holders association to purchase the existing allotment site at agricultural land values. After careful consideration of this request I regret to inform you that it was rejected by the committee. As you are aware it is the Glebe Committee’s responsibility to consider the management of diocesan glebe land in the long term interest of the beneficiaries of the Diocesan Stipend Glebe fund, members considered that the disposal of the freehold of the existing site was not in the long term best interest of the fund beneficiaries.
…… the DBF wish to find a way forward that would both meet the trustees responsibilities and respond to the wishes of the allotment holders. To this end work is continuing on the possibility of extending the allotments onto land at the rear of the existing site and reviewing the security of tenure of for allotment holders of a site made up of part of the existing site and the new extension in the event of the diocese disposing of land to the front of the current site. The committee continue to work on the details of this proposal and I will let you know when I have more information to share on this matter.”
So far we have still have received no detailed written plans on this idea and details are scant. There is no information as to boundaries or area sizes and no specific information about an offer of security of tenure. We continue to pursue the Diocese for clear and full written details of their proposals as requested by our members at the 2018 AGM.
Looking back …
On 15 February 2018 the Wellesbourne Allotment Association Committee met with Diocesan Secretary Ruth Marlow and Acting Archdeacon Clive Hogger from Coventry Diocese, at their request, to hear a proposal they wished to put to us. They told us they understood the need for the Allotment community to be on one location and appreciated the value of the allotments to the community. However, they said they would still like to pursue options with developers on up to half the allotment area. In return for an unspecified form of security of tenure for the future, they proposed incorporating land immediately behind the allotments into the remaining allotment site.
We reported on this meeting at our AGM on February 28 and opened the AGM meeting for debate/clarification. The overwhelming feeling of members was that they wished to remain on the existing land. Understandably, to be able to make an informed decision they would need to see the proposals in writing.
We wrote back to the Diocese relaying the meeting decisions and on 27 March received a response from Ruth Marlow, Diocesan Secretary, stated the following, that there was, “nothing more I can add to what we have already suggested to your management committee. Any changes to the tenure of the proposed new allotment site assumes disposal of a proportion of the existing site for development, which itself is linked to planning permission. However I will discuss your response with the Glebe Committee members and if we can add anything more will get back to you in due course.”
We are therefore left in limbo with no timescales for any meaningful proposals in writing that can be put to members. We hope the consultation on 15 February with the Diocese was not a mere tick-box exercise.
In the meantime, planting is well underway as our allotment community continues to grow. We are welcoming a number of new faces onto the allotments this year. We have a short waiting list for allotments and as a committee we firmly believe that we will still be sowing and reaping on the site for many years to come. If you wish to put your name down for an allotment please contact us at email@example.com.