Allotment holders set to dig in heels over affordable homes development plan
ANGRY allotment holders are to dig their heels in over plans to build affordable homes on their plots.
Stow Town Council has revealed it wants to develop part of the Back Walls site for 20 'much-needed' houses.
Councillor Alun White said the land was one of a "few" remaining sites as a housing needs survey had shown a shortage of low-cost homes in Stow.
The site could be included in the Neighbourhood Plan, being drawn up by civic leaders consulting with the community. The town council would have to relocate affected gardeners.
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But shocked Stow Allotment Association chairman Chris Small said: "We've not been formally told about this and until we know something definitely it's all speculation," he said.
"But the town council will have to ask the Secretary of State for a change of use and we would voice our objections.
"There are other places in Stow to build. There is land next to King Georges Field, the Ashton House care home site and also Chamberlayne House supported housing is on the cards for re-development.
"The allotments are an easy option. The town council will make money as it owns them by default as I believe that land was left to the people of Stow by the Chamberlayne family. We have to have another site and, providing we keep a full house, we have to keep like for like."
He added: "Also how do they think they can develop that site when there's no proper access only through The Park housing estate, as Back Walls certainly can't take extra traffic
"Allotment holders' reactions are going to be very anti - but the best we could hope for is to end up with a better site."
The 80 allotments, owned by just over 50 people, have been tended for around half-a-century, between The Park and cemetery.
Mr White said land in the east, by The Park and play park, would be considered.
In Gloucestershire Rural Community Council's housing needs survey for Stow, 42 people out of 330 respondents had a definite housing need, 27 required affordable housing.
"The allotments is one of the few sites we could develop and is town council-owned," said Mr White. "It's a tough, but necessary decision. We're not looking to squeeze people off but relocate them.
"We're looking for enough land for 20 rented and shared ownership homes.
"We would expect there to be demand - we want to give some hope for people that they can stay, live and work in Stow."