PLANS to build on the oldest surviving allotments in London were reaffirmed by the site’s landlord at a public consultation this weekend despite fierce local objections. 

Earlier this year, plotholders at Northfields Allotments on Northfield Avenue in Ealing were informed by their landlord, Pathways, that it intends to build on part of the allotment site.

At almost two hundred years old, Northfields Allotments is London's oldest allotment site. It dates back to 1832, when the Bishop of London enclosed the site for use as allotments by the local community.

On Saturday 12th November, Pathways held a public consultation to gather feedback on its plans.

The revised plans would see five percent of the historic site built on, down from the ten percent cited in the original proposal.

This reduction has been achieved by shrinking the volume of social housing units on the site from 18 to 15 and removing all parking provision from the plans.

In addition to the 15 social housing units, Pathways intends to construct four townhouses on the allotment site to sell on the open market.

Local opposition to Pathways’ proposal remains very strong with Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton publicly opposing the plans.

"The revised plans from Pathways are moving in the right direction but do not go far enough," she said.

"The new proposal would see five percent of the allotment site being built on, however for many people in Ealing the thought of losing green space, be it for housing or any other purpose, is deeply regrettable.

“I still believe that Pathways can achieve its objectives without needing to build on London’s oldest allotments and am urging the charity to consider other options."

Labour councillors from Walpole ward, the electoral ward that includes the allotment site, and Conservative councillors from neighbouring Northfield ward, where many plotholders live, are also unanimous in their opposition.

The level of opposition is testament to the allotments’ positive impact on the local community.

Around 2,000 members of the public enjoyed the allotments at last month's Halloween pumpkin trail.

The site is also recognised as providing a safe habitat for a vast range of plants, mammals, birds, amphibians and insects. The hedgerow that rings the site carries protected status.

The allotments have been designated a Community Open Space and a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC), by Ealing Council, a designation that would normally give the site protection under the Council’s own planning guidelines.

Christina Fox, chairman of the Ealing Dean Allotment Society, said: “The development on the allotment is being advanced in order to temporarily house 15 residents, however the solution is a permanent one.

"We know that many of Pathways’ trustees have years of experience in housing and urge them to find alternative solutions which do not involve sacrificing this historic site.

“Ealing is famed for its natural heritage and any reduction in the borough’s green spaces would be met with genuine regret by the local community.

"Having conducted our own consultations with plotholders, local residents’ groups and other affected parties, it is clear that the majority of local residents strongly oppose the development of any part of Northfields Allotments.”

Pathways chief executive Clive Wilson said:  ''This scheme is about redeveloping the Dean Court site to provide more affordable, modern properties to allow older people to live independently in their own homes for longer. 

“Ealing is desperate for more social housing, there are over 11,000 people on the waiting list. Our proposals, which are still in the early stages, will mean that we’re able to improve and increase the amount of truly affordable housing for older people in the borough while limiting the loss of open space as much as possible.

“From the very beginning of this process we were always clear that we wanted to use the least amount of land at the allotment site possible, to ensure we could keep the Dean Court community together during the redevelopment. 

“Our studies of the site confirm that we will only require around 5% of the site, affecting fewer plot holders while allowing us to deliver a significant benefit for older people in the Ealing community.”