Watford Farm Terrace Allotments

Court action begins to save Farm Terrace Allotments

Court papers have been filed to begin the third round of legal action to save an allotment site in Watford from development, in a case that is likely to have national ramifications for allotment protection.

For the third time, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has agreed that Watford Council can appropriate the Farm Terrace Allotment site for a housing and retail development, despite two previous decisions having been quashed by the High Court after the plot-holders challenged them.

The Secretary of State’s policy – which is meant to protect allotments from development – says that consent for appropriation should not be granted if the allotments are not surplus to requirements. The Council admits that the allotments are not surplus to requirements, but maintains (and the Secretary of State agrees) that the need to build on the allotment land constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ which justify building on it anyway, despite the fact that the development will nonetheless go ahead without the allotments. The allotment holders, and the National Allotment Society, believe that if ‘exceptional circumstances’ are interpreted in this way, then no allotment in England is safe, because it would be so easy for developers to assert that their application is exceptional. The case will therefore be about far more than Farm Terrace, as it will affect every local authority-owned allotment site in the country.

Court action commenced on 22 August 2016. We have asked for an expedited time-table to make sure that the case is heard before plot-holders are evicted. The Government has refused to agree to this, so we have had to apply for a court order to get this. We hope to hear back from the Court about the time-table within the next few days. We will keep you updated, but you can also follow developments through the campaigners’ website and on twitter @SaveFarmTerrace.

The case is being dealt with by Adam Hundt and Ugo Hayter of our Bristol office. The barristers they have instructed are Jason Coppel QC and Christopher Knight of 11 KBW.

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