Hawkwood Allotment site overgrown and unoccupied but council insists all places are filled

Half of council-managed allotment site unoccupied

Allotment holder's Patricia and John Richards with Iain Duncan-Smith

An unoccupied plot overgrown with bushes and weeds at the Chingford site

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

An allotment site owned and managed by Waltham Forest Council has been left to overgrow uncontrollably, despite promises it will be maintained, according to plot holders.

Hawkwood Allotment site in Drysdale Avenue, Chingford, is one of 16 sites owned by the council and managed by an allotments officer. 

Plots holders Patricia and John Richards, both 75, of Mark Avenue in Chingford, claim half of the 24 plots are unoccupied and those remaining have been left to ruin, as well as many pathways being taken over by bramble bushes and Japanese knotweed. 

The allotments page on the council's website, last updated on July 17, reads, 'due to the overwhelming number of applications, all allotment places have been filled'. 

The couple, who have held at plot there for over a decade, say they have made numerous attempts to get the land maintained. 

Mr Richards said: "My wife has been to various members in the council, including the councillors but we've got nowhere. 

"We're continually being told there is an interest and a waiting list but the people of Leyton, Leytonstone and Walthamstow that want an allotment are being told there is none available. 

"The council will not own up to the land not being maintained they just keep promising again and again it will be cleared but nothing is done.

"Main pathways were kept in order by the council but in the last five years no-one has come at all. You can walk along them but with a certain amount of difficulty."

After writing to deputy leader and cabinet member for environment councillor Clyde Loakes, the couple managed to have two plots either side of theirs cleared but the "weeds came back and no new tenant appeared". 

Mr Richards suspects this is part of the main issue at the site. 

He added: "People haven't turned up work them because of health problems or old age and they are left in good working order but there is no immediate replacement.

"The council are not advertising the availability and are not being quick enough to get someone it.

"Frankly, they're not doing their job."

Following a complaint in April, the couple received a response from the council admitting the site had 'not been filled to capacity for at least the last 30 years'. 

Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan-Smith visited the site on Friday and was 'not impressed'.

"Allotments in the borough are much sought after and a community asset and as such need to be looked after and their records of availability updated. 

"I will be writing to the London borough of Waltham Forest to urge them to ensure that this site is properly cared for inspected regularly," said Mr Duncan-Smith.

The council has been contacted for a comment. 

Comments (4)

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4:44pm Thu 7 Aug 14

Villagecranberry says...

This is such a shame as people love growing their own fruit and vegetables rather than buying strawberries and asparagus out of season from Kenya say for example. Especially those who have to rent and have no garden space. Such people would love to spend time growing their own produce instead of slaving away to pay a huge mortgage and spend hours on the tube in the summer heat.
This is such a shame as people love growing their own fruit and vegetables rather than buying strawberries and asparagus out of season from Kenya say for example. Especially those who have to rent and have no garden space. Such people would love to spend time growing their own produce instead of slaving away to pay a huge mortgage and spend hours on the tube in the summer heat. Villagecranberry
  • Score: 4

9:26am Fri 8 Aug 14

John J C Moss says...

The Walthamstow & Chingford Almshouses Charity also has a number of allotment sites in the Borough. It has no vacancies and all sites are well managed and maintained.

Perhaps the Council should consider out-sourcing the management of its sites if it's doing such a poor job?
The Walthamstow & Chingford Almshouses Charity also has a number of allotment sites in the Borough. It has no vacancies and all sites are well managed and maintained. Perhaps the Council should consider out-sourcing the management of its sites if it's doing such a poor job? John J C Moss
  • Score: 6

7:03pm Sat 9 Aug 14

roundthetwist says...

Work with local primary schools to learn how to grow fresh produce.
Work with local primary schools to learn how to grow fresh produce. roundthetwist
  • Score: 3

3:12pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Thunderbird4 says...

Hidden Agenda: Sell-off allotment sites for housing by letting them go to seed.
Hidden Agenda: Sell-off allotment sites for housing by letting them go to seed. Thunderbird4
  • Score: 1

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