Allotment Demonstration Held Outside Syon House

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A demonstration was held this Sunday (23 May) outside Syon House in protest over plans to build housing on part of an allotments site on Park Road.

The protest included local residents, councillors as well as allotment holders who were asking Northumberland Estates, which owns and manages the site on behalf of the Duke of Northumberland and his son, Earl Percy, to shelve plans which are due to be considered shortly by the Hounslow Council Planning Committee.

The allotment site has been registered as an Asset of Community Value and is home to bats (including some rare species), hedgehogs, and newts as well as many mature fruit trees.

Northumberland Estates insists the development of 80 new homes in seven blocks is necessary to provide revenue for the upkeep of the Syon Park estate and says that all current allotment holders will be allocated a new plot.

Isleworth Councillors Daanish Saeed, Salman Shaheen and Sue Sampson (far right first picture) join local residents and plot holders outside Syon House to protest at plans to build on historic allotments

The current application is the second attempt to develop the site, the first having been rejected by the council and the Planning Inspectorate on appeal. Opponents of the scheme dismiss the idea that the retention of allotments at the site in the new proposal marks a sufficient improvement for the application to be allowed.

Over 300 objections to the plans have been submitted with only two letters of support so far and local MP and newly promoted Shadow Minister for Planning Ruth Cadbury has joined Isleworth's three councillors in opposing the plans.

Isleworth Councillors Daanish Saeed, Salman Shaheen and Sue Sampson (far right first picture join local
Councillors Daanish Saeed, Salman Shaheen and Sue Sampson join the protest

Salman Shaheen Councillor for Isleworth, who attended the protest said. “The Park Road Allotments are a highly prized piece of community open space, the need for which has been demonstrated more than ever during the COVID pandemic. This tranquil place, home to a raft of wildlife should not be built over.

“While we need more affordable housing in the borough, the Duke's plans still fall short of the 40% target we look for in any new development and in any case, we should not be building on this key greenfield site to satisfy housing needs. What is the point of providing places to live without also quality of life? These allotments are a lifeline to the many local people in flats and tower blocks and the long waiting list only shows we need more allotment space, not less.”

The land has been used for allotments since the 7th Duke of Northumberland leased it to the council in 1917 with the intention of helping wounded First World War soldiers to grow their own food during a time of famine for the ordinary person; it also happened to coincide with the start of the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918. The Northumberland Estates revoked the agreement and took back the management of the land in 2015.

Plot holder, Annie Aloysius explained, “Since 2015 the Estates have refused to lease plots to any new allotment holders and those on the site have been given a drip feed of six months tenure making it impossible to plan or think long-term. This has inevitably led to some plots falling into disuse and the site looking underused and unloved. Far from it, we know the plots would be snapped up in an instant, and this has been a deliberate ploy by the Northumberland Estates to claim the land is derelict and unused to encourage planning consent.”

A spokesperson for Northumberland Estates said, “There remains an acute need for housing and this has to be balanced against the loss of a relatively small area of under used space.”

The planning reference is P/2020/4292. You can find further details of the application and make comments by visiting this page.

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May 25, 2021

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