City Council to sell Broadlands Allotments to University

Posted on November 18, 2010 by

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It has been confirmed by Caroline Nokes MP that the Broadlands Road Allotment site is to be sold off by the Council to the University to expand on to.

Plot holders have feared such a decision has been in the pipeline since the University offered them sums of money earlier in the year to sell-up directly, at which point they all refused to do so.  The Council appear to have now intervened though to force a sale, as previous Blowhole articles have suggested may happen.

This decision will also be of concern to the residents of the NBSP area whom the Council have recently allowed to turn idle land in their neighbourhood into a new Allotment site, but some raised concerns that these new plots may simply be taken up by plothoders evicted from Broadlands.

The cabinet of Southampton City Council will be discussing this proposal in a meeting on the 22nd at 5pm at the Civic Centre which will be open to the public, and readers who are concerned about this are encouraged to go and make their views known.  A local resident’s meeting is also being held by the NBSP community group on the same day at 7:30pm in The Drummond Arms about the plans for the new allotment site, at which councillors are said to be attending to hear and discuss people’s views.  We will be updating this article as more details emerge.

UPDATE:

Following last night’s meetings it has been confirmed that the City Council’s plan is indeed to sell Broadlands Road allotments to the University in exchange for them paying for the cleanup of the Brickfield Road site as a replacement.  15-16 out of the potential 17 plots at Brickfield will be taken up by former Broadlands Road plotholders, leaving only 1 or 2 new plots.

The Cabinet meeting of the City Council, despite being lobbied by a delegation of allotment holders, passed the decision, which now has to be passed eventually to the Secretary of State for approval (as all changes to allotments require) and planning permission acquired.  It is expected that this will take a minimum of 18 months, although probably will end up more than 2 years.  It was claimed by a representative from the Broadlands Road site that from what he knows the University will be using the Broadlands site for a car park.  It was also made clear that the Broadlands site has been earmarked in zoning plans for the University for many years, and so this was in the pipeline for a long time.

At the later NBSP meeting residents questioned councillors Jeremy Moulton and Vincenzo Capiolli over the plans, with the main concerns being that despite originally campaigning for a community garden for everyone in the local neighbourhood very few of them will actually be able to access the space, as they would have to join the long allotments waiting last (often 4 years or more).  It was proposed that one of the extra plots could be reserved for the community group to act as a community garden open to all residents to resolve this, which the councillors said they would consider.

Many campaigners now face a bit of a quandary, as the Broadlands Road plotholders don’t want to leave, but the Councillors made it clear that if that site is saved they may be forced to sell the Brickfield Road site.  This results from the Council’s decision a few years ago to spend the money it expected from the sale of the site before it was blocked, creating a £1.3m loss.  As a result, the Council is intent on selling one site to make up for it, potentially pitting the supporters of either site against each other in a battle to preserve theirs.  The Councillors claimed that this was the best solution for everyone (the university, council and residents), though some pointed out at the NBSP meeting that having a community plot at Brickfield would help resolve feelings by residents in the area of having failed to gain access themselves to the site.

The Blowhole will keep track of the Portswood Allotments issue and update on it as the campaigns surounding it develop.

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Posted in: News, Southampton