Poppy Grace Bates' winning SOWA Logo

Allotment Facebook page Allotment twitter feed

 

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 lettings@wellesbourneallotments.co.uk.

 

April 2018 Position Statement

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 have received no plans or proposals in writing 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 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. We will wait and see if the Glebe Committee comes forward with any meaningful proposals and we are ready to respond accordingly.


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 lettings@wellesbourneallotments.co.uk.

 

**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