Allotment holders have won the right to put together a community bid to buy their much cherished plots – and safeguard them against being eaten up by a potential 800-home development.
Barwick-in-Elmet and Scholes Parish Council has successfully bid on behalf of plotholders for the 24-plot site in Scholes to be included on Leeds City Council’s official List of Assets of Community Value.
The listing allows locals to come up with a “first dibs” business plan to buy the land outright, on the grounds that it is of particular cultural, recreational or social interest to the local community and should therefore be preserved.
Concerns had been raised that the plots, which have been part of the village since 1941 and have a three-year waiting list, could attract the attentions of house builders.
This was because the current landowner, who owns a large expanse of land incorporating the allotment site, has an agreement with a major developer that, if they can get planning permission, they have first option to buy the land.
The agreement has led to fears that the allotment plots could eventually be reclaimed, despite the potential developer – the Scholes Development Company – saying that they have “no long term intention” to develop the allotment site.
A report approved by the council says: “The Scholes Development Company Ltd...have developed a vision document to develop the overall land into 800 houses within the vicinity of the allotments. The document makes it clear that the allotments are not included as part of the housing development, however the parish council is concerned that the developer has the right to develop the site if they wish.”
The report says the landowner has officially objected to the listing request “as he feels the site already has protected status”. However it has no statutory protection under the Allotment Act 1950.