Abbey Road Allotments

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Despite having held a Green Flag award for a number of years the only Allotment site in Dudley Borough to do so, the planning department at the council have identified part of the site to be potentially developed for housing.
This is in contradiction of their own rules on allotment sites, which states that allotments that are fully occupied and maintained to a high standard and have a waiting list for plot holders will not be subject to development.
Our site currently meet all these criteria, despite this the planning department at the council still insist on identifying part of the site for a potential housing development.

We were not informed about this by the council but discovered it when reading the Black Country Strategic Plan and realised that one of the sites identified included part of the allotment.
This was done by the planning department at the same time that we were renewing the lease for the land with the council! It was also the same time that the council were sending out a press release encouraging other allotment sites in the borough to follow our example and apply for the Green Flag award.
As an association we are not sure whether the planning department acted illegally by not notifying us that they had plans to put forward part of the site to developed for housing at the same time that they were renewing our lease. If not illegal it certainly appears immoral especially when they are promoting us as an example to other allotment sites.

Our initial thoughts when we saw the draft plans was that a mistake had been made with the boundary to the allotment. Hence we contacted the planning department and had the following reply from the Council :

"As part of the Local Plan review process, Government requires local planning authorities to carry out a "Call for Sites" exercise. For this reason we have issued a "Call for Sites" request to allow landowners and others, who might have an interest in land, to put forward sites for us to consider in the plan preparation. A site (ref 225) at Land South of Cradley Town Football Club, Beeches View Avenue, Halesowen has been submitted for consideration which is owned by Dudley MBC.

I have spoken to my colleagues in Land & Property Services regarding the boundary for the site submission, and they have confirmed that the site does include part vacant site and part allotment site. Land & Property Services have submitted a number of council owned sites for consideration as part of this Call for Sites process. This is to determine the suitability of sites for other uses (e.g. housing or employment) in the future should the existing use cease to continue. "

When the local councillor for the area was approached for advise her reply was:

"It does not necessarily mean it will be built on, if there is a chance that it is chosen to be built on or even looked at I am sure you will have plenty of backing locally to retain the site so it does not affect the allotments."

We do have the support of a number of Dudley Councillors who have asked questions of the planning department at Dudley Council on our behalf and appreciate the good work that the allotment has done for the community in recent years.
As you can see from the events page we have also had a visit from James Morris MP, who was impressed by allotment and offered his support.
The Strategic plan is raising a number of issues locally since it not only threatens the allotment, despite being in contradication of there own planning rules, but also large areas of local Greenbelt land.

Offical Council Website

If you go to the official website to find out more details about the proposals you find that the council are changing the name of the plan, presumably to confuse and mislead the public.
If you click on the link for the timetable on their website you find that they have removed the information. The link to the council website is: Black Country Plan(formally Black Country Core Strategy)

It is frustrating that as more people are becoming aware of the plan and are taking an interest the people responsible for the plan at the council are using these tactics to mislead and confuse. Alan Lunt (Strategic Director Place & Deputy Chief Executive at Dudley Council) must take responsibility for misleading the public.
It appears that the original plan was developed without the elected councillors being informed, so if the planning department at the council are not open with our elected representatives it is not surprising that they are using these tricks.