SOWA News & Press Releases

Please find below an archive of news and press releases captured throughout this campaign to protect the allotments.

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.

Wednesday 31st January 2018

The Diocese have now released a statement. 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.

Wednesday 31st January 2018

Wellesbourne Allotments have issued the following press release. Please click to view the statement in both PDF format and Word format

Tuesday 7th August 2017

Today we got approval to publish the letter from Mr Jeremy Wright MP to the secretary of the WAA, Anne-Marie Ortu.

You can read the letter here as a PDF.

Wednesday 2nd August 2017

Chairman Ian Hope and Treasurer Ken Manning met with the chair of the St Peter's Parochial Church Council Mr David Close and church warden & PCC member, Christine Shehata.

During this meeting, the timelines as viewed from the PCC were discussed, as was the decision process reached by them.

SOWA/WAA used this opportunity to highlight the strong parochial activities which the allotments give to the village and which had not been considered by the PCC during their decisions. Whilst not conveying the details of the conversation here without their approval, what was clear was the pastoral and parochial value of the allotment site and communituy shoul dbe stressed during the meeting with the Diocese secretary on 8th August.

Saturday 29th July 2017

The next step is, as described below, the meeting between WAA/SOWA and the Diocese in their Coventry offices on Tuesday 8th August. This will be the first direct dialogue opportunity offered to WAA regards this proposal.

We are expecting to hear what their next stage of development planning will be and what the Diocese timelines are.

In return, WAA will take the opportunity to ask the Diocese secretary and her colleagues several key questions regards our future, and also make clear our opposition and the overwhelming community and national support that we have behind us, although we strongly suspect that they are already aware of that situation!

The SOWA team will, on behalf of WAA, communicate the outcome of that meeting on this website as soon as possible after the event.

Friday 28th July 2017

SOWA ran a competition for the children in the village to design our logo. After deliberations by the Chair and Treasurer after reviewing the rather superb entries, the winner was named as Poppy Grace Bates of the 2nd Wellesbourne Rainbows.

She's drawn a beautiful, bright and cheerful logo and it will be used as our campaign image. It's already on our front page and we'll be incorporating it across all our documents and communications accordingly. Some goodies will be winging their way to her very shortly. Well done!

But we also want to thank all the village for their entries and the support demonstrated has been overwhelming. Thank you!

Tuesday 25th July 2017

WAA and SOWA have been in contact with St Mary's allotment located in Leamington Spa. They have notified their own plotholders of our plight, and are clearly concerned as their landlord is also the Dioceseof Coventry and as such, their allotment site could, in the future, be subject to similar development proposals.

The two associations are now talking and will be sharing support and information going forwards.

Sunday 23rd July 2017

It has been agreed by WAA that all allotment plot holders will be provided with a copy of the Tenancy Agreement to ensure all members are suitably informed of our rental position.

In that, it is clearly defined that there is a 1 year period of notice to quit when the Diocese decides to proceed with the site development.

Saturday 22nd July 2017

SOWA ran a petition day at Sainsburys in Wellesbourne on Saturday 22nd, and we'd like to thank the manager and team there for letting us have a presence.

The outcome was stunning. 929 individuals signed our petition, people listened to the issues and engaged with the team and the overwhelming support was evident.

There was a small number of people (low single digit) who disagreed with the campaign. They were listened to, engaged with and their opinions respected, although it was agreed to disagree.

SOWA wish to thank Sainsburys for the opportunity to be there, and to thank the local population from Wellesbourne and surrounds for their clear appreciation and support of the allotment site.

Friday 21st July 2017

WAA's secretary Anne-Marie Ortu has received a formal response from our local MP, Jeremy Wright. He has met with the Diocese and, in his letter, he explained his discussion and what his stance was to them.

If we are approved to share the letter (a private correspondence between an MP and his constituent), we will post it here for transparency.

However, the basic tenent is that Mr Wright was clear about his disappointment at the community impact and the deviation from the Local Plan which this development proposal poses.

Please watch this space for if/when we can publish the letter.

Monday 17th July 2017

SOWA met with a representative of the National Allotments Association on site on the evening of 17th July. This was a very useful and constructive meeting and more are planned.

A meeting has now been arranged today between members of both the SOWA team & WAA committee and the Diocese of Coventry (specifically the Diocesan Secretary (Ruth Marlow) and the Acting Archdeacon Pastor (Clive Hogger)). This is now scheduled on the 8th August in Coventry itself. It will be the first conversation between both parties since the development proposal went public. The only contact fromt he Diocese directly has been the email received on 17th July to arrange this meeting. SOWA will update this page with the outcome of the meeting.

We now understand that Jeremy Wright MP (Kenilworth & Southam) met with representatives of the Diocese on Friday 14th July. No members of WAA or SOWA were present. SOWA are awaiting an update on the outcome of that meeting.

Finally, David Close, vice-chair of Wellesbourne's St peters PCC, has contacted Ken Manning and forwarded a brief section of the minutes where the PCC made their decision on the development. A first meeting is being scheduled between WAA/SOWA and St Peters PCC. SOWA will update this page with the outcome of the meeting.

Friday 14th July 2017

As of this evening, the only contact from the Diocese to either SOWA or WAA committee has been the representation of their land agents in a face-to-face meeting (see below) on Thursday 6th July. Despite attempts at engagement by WAA, there has been no responses forthcoming. WAA remain open to meeting with them and discussing the issues.

St Peter's PCC has issued a new statement to WAA (see below, Tues 11th), but no other engagement has been received as of this evening.

Friday 14th July 2017

WAA will be holding a summer social event for plot holders on Saturday 15th July from 18:30 onwards. If you wish to be on the waiting list (it's growing!!!!) then come along. And anyone supportive of the cause would be welcome to meet us too.

Thursday 13th July 2017

Jeremy Wright MP (Kenilworth & Southam) has offered to engage with the Diocese regards this issue and today WAA thanked him for his support and has asked if a member of WAA could be in attendance at that meeting to ensure all voices are correctly heard. We are awaiting a decision by his office on that query.

Tuesday 11th July 2017

A letter from the St Peter's PCC was received by the WAA committee in which several statements were made. As the contents were aimed at a limited audience, we will not post it here without the PCC approval. (It was partially published in the Stratford Herald though??!)

One comment though which would not breach stated that the PCC will meet the WAA and plot holders to gather information and then discuss with the Diocese accordingly.

There was no mention of providing the minutes from the meetings as requested by WAA previously.

Monday 10th July 2017

A letter on behalf of the WAA/SOWA committee was sent to the Venerable John Green requesting that he attend the allotment site to meet the committee and plot holders alike.

His secretary quickly responded and advised he is currently away and will be in contact upon his return. The letter was forwarded to Clive Hogger of the Diocese.

Sunday 9th July 2017

A follow up email to Mr Close (with the correct email address!), Rev'd Biddington, Rev'd Hood, and the church office was sent requesting the minutes. As of Friday 14th July 18:00, no acknowledgement or response to this request has been received by any members of the WAA committee. And yes, spam folders have been checked!

Friday 7th July 2017

WAA Treasurer Ken Manning wrote to Mr David Close (vice chair of St Peter's PCC) asking for a set of minutes relating to the meeting when the PCC made their decision about the allotments.

Friday 7th July 2017

SOWA are now making representations to the Diocese Glebe committee regards their imminent appraisal of the development proposal.

As Wellesbourne's St Peter's Church Parochial Church Council (PCC) decided not to conclusively object to the development proposal (on the basis that the allotment community do not contribute to the parish's parochial activities)(please see their press release for the conditions attached to their statements), this has enabled the proposal to move to the next step - assessment and validation of development at the Glebe committee on Tuesday 11th July 2017.

At this meeting, that committee will consider the decision not to object from Wellesbourne's PCC, the developer's proposals and take representations from the land agents Godfrey Payton. This is the initial crunch decision. The Glebe committee could decide to demote the allotment site for 12 months or give the green light for immediate progression to planning.

Thursday 6th July 2017

Members of SOWA have begun distributing copies of the petition and collecting signatures. Things are gathering pace with support from around the country and even reporting reaching Australia about the threat to the allotment site.

The commitee wish to thank all those individuals from all over who have taken time to contact us and offer support in various forms.

Thursday 6th July 2017

On Wednesday 5th July, the agent from Godfrey Payton contacted the Wellesbourne Allotment Association committee (WAA) for the first time and requested a meeting. This is the first formal engagement from either the church, the Diocese, the developers or the land agents since the news broke about the Dicoese's intention to sell the land on which the allotments reside.

The face to face meeting was held on the allotments on Thursday 6th July between the agent and multiple members of the WAA.

Tuesday 4th July 2017

A hardcopy petition is now launched on Tuesday 4th July 2017 and will be cascaded throughout the village for residents and plot holders to sign. This will be used solely for fighting the planning proposal by the Diocese.

On Tuesday 4th July, a large number of allotment plot holders and villagers opposed to the development plans by the Diocese attended the Wellesbourne Parish Council meeting at the village's Methodist hall. Minutes will be posted once the parish clerk has uplaoded to their website.

Ken Manning (Wellesbourne Allotment Association treasurer) made a statement to both the council and public formally objecting to the development plans on behalf of the association.

In response, the Parish Council chair, Anne Prior, clarified the constraints upon which all parish councillors must act but did declare that there was no provision for this development in the core strategy or in the existing 5 year housing plans. Furthermore, the draft Neighbourhood Plan was not aligned to the development plans.

Several members of the public subsquently questioned the council, Wellesbourne East district councillor Anne Parry and made statements regarding the development.

A press release from SOWA will appear here shortly following the meeting

Statement from Wellesbourne Allotment Association

This letter was distributed to households across Wellesbourne during the week of 26th June 2017.

Click here to view the resident's letter in PDF format

Statement from St Peter's Parochial Church Council

This press release from the committee of Wellesbourne's village church was forwarded to SOWA during the week beginning 26th June 2017. In this, the local church states that it will not object and thus backs the destruction of the allotments and the development of 50 houses on the land.

Click here to view St Peter's press release in PDF format
 is a community action organisation initiated by the Wellesbourne Allotment Association