London's oldest surviving allotment is facing the threat of being built on thanks to plans by its landlord to construct a new housing development on part of the allotment site.
In September, plotholders at Northfields Allotments on Northfield Avenue in Ealing were informed by their landlord, Pathways, that it intends to build on an estimated 10% of the allotment site.
Of course, we always feared this would happen, because it has happened to us before. Originally Northfield Allotments were much larger. In 1972 60% of the site was compulsory purchased and houses and flats were built on it. Most of those are currently being knocked down and rebuilt barely 30 years after construction.
So, we are understandably nervous that this latest development will lead to greater losses to come.
Pathways plans to construct a mix of social and private housing, including a five or six storey building. But, once our green spaces are developed, we will never get them back - this should not be a choice between housing and green spaces. We need both.
The Pathways proposals have already met with a great deal of local opposition. Over 900 people have already signed a petition to save the allotments. Our local councillors, both Labour and Conservative, along with Rupa Huq (the local MP for Ealing Central and Acton), have all pledged their support to oppose the development.
However, we will need money to help us stop development on the allotments. We will use these funds for expert advice and to raise awareness of our campaign.
These allotments are more than just a place to grow organic fruit and veg. We are a community that wants to stay together. We have friends here. We share our produce and expertise. We engage with the local community. We’ve sympathetically restored 900m of ancient hedgerow that surrounds the site, increased the habitat for our endangered stag beetles, provided a safe habitat for our hedgehogs, and we've opened the gates to local residents for the first time in 182 years. It is a green health centre providing exercise and fresh food for our pensioners and children. Our fruit and veg are walked home – not packed into airplanes and flown half way round the world. This is an important heritage site, Northfields are the oldest allotments in London
As one plotholder put it... "My allotment means a lot to me , we live in a third floor social housing flat with no access to a garden of our own. In 18 months my daughter and I have transformed the plot from weeds and brambles to our own little patch of heaven and my daughter has learned so much she never would have been able to before, from where our food comes from to the lifecycle of the frog - and she now wants to be a gardener when she grows up. Thank you for helping us fight."
Francesca and Marianne age 5
All our plotholders believe we must try to protect these allotments for the people of Ealing. I do hope you will help us by donating. Our greatest fear is that if 10% is lost to development today - we will lose the remaining 90% tomorrow.
Thank you all so much for all your help.
The Ealing Dean Allotment Society plotholders