It’s time to think about allotments for Hunts Grove and your views are sought on the way forward. Comment below or via our Facebook post.
The Current Strategy For Hunts Grove Allotments
The minimum provision specification for allotments is detailed in the planning permission for Hunts Grove (see below). A space has been reserved in the masterplan adjacent to the M5 motorway and Haresfield Lane bridge crossing (see location plan below). Crest Nicholson have submitted a planning application that meets the minimum specification and now have approval for this from the local authority.
An Alternate Proposal For Hunts Grove Allotments
Colethrop Farm Limited (CFL), the original landowners of Hunts Grove, are proposing a small development of homes surrounding the old farmhouse near Haresfield Lane. To the south would be the proposed allotments and to the west would be Haresfield Lane and the proposed community building.
CFL would like to relocate the allotments away from the homes as they feel it would be more attractive to develop homes and landscaping in this location rather than overlooking allotments. The alternate location would be nearby, but across the M5 (see plan below).
As part of their proposal, they would like to offer facilities that are in excess of the minimum specifications detailed in planning. Crest Nicholson, the master developer overall for Hunts Grove, has not been involved in this alternative proposal and has been contacted for comment.
HGRA Current Assessment
The following assessment is valid as at 20th July 2020 and may change. For HGRA, the most important voice is the residents of Hunts Grove, so it is essential that as many as possible have their say on the proposals. Having said that, our assessment is that the proposal (on balance) is worth consideration as it offers some advantages, namely a more attractive ecology area, an additional area of public open space and land for additional allotments in the future. There are disadvantages too, especially location across the motorway, and we identify pros and cons below.
HGRA reps were invited to a site visit to the proposed land with CFL’s consultants on Thursday 16th July 2020. We accessed the site from the old farm bridge across the M5 that is adjacent to the future public open space near David Wilson Homes phase 2.
After walking across the motorway bridge, there is a small area of woodland and then a large open field that runs adjacent to the motorway all the way down to Haresfield Lane. The field is mostly level, surrounded by established hedgerow, has a small stream across a one corner and includes 4 landmark trees in the field. We have identified several pros and cons below.
Allotments Location Plan
The Crest Nicholson Proposal
HGRA would like to see the allotments divided in different sized plots than the current planned 55 125 sqm plots as some residents have noted that they would be happier with a 60 sqm plot for example. By dividing some plots, it will be possible for more residents to participate. HGRA have studied another allotments scheme that Crest have delivered at their Tadpole Garden Village development in Swindon and, like that site, would like to see on-site shed storage provided, community composting bins and water troughs.
The CFL Alternative Proposal
Pros, Cons & Questions
As stated above, the alternate site is a nice piece of land for allotments and includes features that are in excess of the minimum specification in the planning permission. At this stage, HGRA are seeking views of residents on either allotments plan and not endorsing one scheme over the other. Our site visit identified several potential pros, cons and questions which we have copied below for reference. As we receive more information, we will publish an updated post on the website.
Pros & Maybe Pros
- The CFL proposal meets minimum specifications detailed in planning, plus offers protected land for future expansion by approx. 80% as a phase 2;
- The CFL proposal includes an enhanced ecology area and public space amenity compared to the Crest proposal;
- Haresfield Lane one-way – the current plan and road arrangement for Haresfield Lane one-way was considered convoluted by some consultees during the planning process leading potentially to confused traffic leaving the spine road for Haresfield Lane and then getting stuck. By moving the one-way access point to beyond the Pool Farm Lane junction, more space is available for control and potentially a turn-around;
- The CFL proposed location is close (to the existing location) for access, however does require crossing the motorway, which is not a pleasant experience;
- The alternative allotment site is outside of the new Hunts Grove Parish. This has no impact under the current management company arrangements, however could be an issue if future residents vote to request the local authority to adopt the responsibilities under district or parish control once Crest Nicholson returns control of it’s golden shares. Based on the current contractual arrangements, this is highly likely as approximately 50% of fees charged are taken by the agent as “admin fees” rather than actual maintenance of the site. In the event of a change in arrangements, the allotments would be in the wrong parish;
- Limited over-looking of the site may attract anti-social behaviour compared to the original planned site adjacent to housing. HGRA would expect additional security measures to prevent anti-social behaviour, i.e. controlled access and cctv;
- Potentially the alternate allotment site would be more costly for management company fee-payers to maintain as it is a larger site. Financial viability should be researched as potentially plots (and future additional plots) may be self-funding dependant upon the fee schedule envisaged (i.e., in reality this could be a pro rather than a con);
Questions & Points for Info
- There is a 11/33KV power line crossing the site. Will this be relocated or buried?;
- No water was visible in the stream through the site, therefore are the ecology ponds sustainable in this location?;
- Facilitating Haresfield residents access and use of the community building is protected as a clause in planning – are there similar protections or aspirations for Haresfield residents access to allotments?;
- Haresfield Lane one-way – will need to be addressed east of the Pool Farm Lane junction instead of adjacent to the community building. It is unclear how this will work if the community centre parking needs to be maintained for Haresfield residents? Does this mean a car park for the community building will need to be built on the Haresfield side of the motorway?;
- Mesh wire fencing was discussed for security, although some of the boundary has in-built security due to hedgerow and ditch features. A discussion point is also whether just the allotments would be secured or the whole site, including car park and public open space;
- A noise bund would need to be built along the motorway edge as the site traffic noise is extreme at the moment. We understand that this would not need to be at a scale compared to the opposite side of the motorway for homes etc. A full noise survey should be conducted to establish acceptable noise levels for the allotments, the mitigation required and ensuring that any additional bund is not detrimental to the residential areas (from noise reflection for example);
- HGRA would like to see the proposal integrate the small area of woodland (by the farm bridge) in to the scheme as a woodland access. Otherwise this area will become a spot for anti-social behaviour issues in the future;
Have Your Say
The scheme proposers (CFL) would like residents feedback, as would HGRA. Leave comments below or via our Facebook page for this post. Comments will be collated and may be referenced at a future planning consultation on the scheme.