Wanstead allotment holders have collected more than 2,700 signatures for a petition against their plots being converted into a lorry park for a gas company.
The plots are on Redbridge Lane West, near Wanstead High School and by the side of the A12. Gas company Cadent wants to use the land for at least two years to park its vehicles while it carries out maintenance on its gas works which are next door.
The plan, which would not start until spring next year, could coincide with the work on building Wanstead’s new swimming pool at Wanstead Leisure Centre on the same stretch of road.
More than 40 plot holders are being offered the option to take a two-year ‘holiday’ from their allotments or to relocate to another site, but it’s not completely clear where they could be accommodated.
The site is owned by Redbridge Council which has not yet decided about the proposal.
Gardener Sally Parker, one of those who would be affected, said: “The allotment site is a natural meadow, with huge biodiversity value. There are wild flowers, fruit and other trees, wildlife including newts and toads and a pond, as well as a host of well nurtured allotment plots. Irreparable damage will be caused to the soil structure.
“The plot holders do not believe that the gas company understands how much effort goes into establishing and maintaining a plot. People have devoted their care, time and money over years into erecting infrastructure such as sheds, greenhouses, raised beds, walkways and frames to name just a few things. For many plot holders, including the elderly and those who live alone, their allotments have been even more invaluable during the pandemic, providing much needed outdoor exercise and contact with other plot holders.”
A spokesperson for Cadent told the Ilford Recorder that no firm decisions had been made and that they were continuing to consult with allotment holders and the council to look at all options.
The gardeners are appealing for more people to sign their petition which can be found here.