Plans to fence-off recreational grounds for 145-plot allotment development opposed by ward councillors

Date published: 14 March 2019

Proposals to allocate recreational land at the top of Hutchinson Road in Norden for the development of 145 new allotment plots are being opposed by local ward councillors.

The 11,500m2 site has been identified and shortlisted as part of a wider council plan to create 500 new plots across Rochdale: Environmental Management has been tasked with creating 100 new plots each year, every year, for the next five years. 

The scheme has been approved by cabinet who have also provisionally allocated capital funding to enable delivery and was brought before Rochdale Township Committee on Wednesday (13 March).

Councillor Peter Winkler said: “I am not disputing that there is a waiting list for allotments or that time spent working on an allotment can be good for a person’s physical and mental health.  However, the proposed site in Norden is already offering recreational space which is used by a huge number of residents for a wide variety of activities, which offer the same benefits.

“This proposal would involve fencing off the area and restricting access through the site which is used by many adults and children. While 145 people (not all Norden residents) would get an allotment, thousands more would lose the right to use the space recreationally, as they have for decades.”

He continued: “Hutchinson Road, which is the only road access to the site, is a narrow residential street which already struggles with traffic volumes. I would hate to see what would happen if vehicles attempted to access 145 new allotment plots every week. There is also the danger that the increased traffic would pose to the children who access play areas in the immediate area.

“I have spoken to residents in the surrounding area and they were shocked and furious to find out that the land had been put onto the shortlist without public consultation.”

Councillor Jim Gartside added: “It looks good on the map, but there isn’t the space for it. It’s not a good spot and we three ward councillors are trying to think of other places. There is a distinct need for new allotments, but this probably isn’t the right place.”

A report presented at the Rochdale Township Committee describes the site as 'a large grassed area with a formal play area, with no rights or way or paths'.

These comments have already been disputed by angry residents who claim that the land is crossed by walkers in all directions many times every day and has de facto rights of way. Locals also claim the site was historically bequeathed to the children of Norden as an area of recreational land and are insisting that it must be removed from the shortlist.

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