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»Allotment users have joined forces to campaign against land next to their plots being sold to a developer for housing.

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Last week Havering Council’s cabinet agreed to sell the majority of land – 1.53 acres – next to Rainham’s Melville Road Allotments for residential development and to create additional allotments on 0.6 acres.

The sale will be subject to planning permission and the approval of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Officers recommended extending the adjoining allotment site for use by local people.

But allotment users have collected more than 100 names of people opposed to any land next to the allotments being turned into housing.

James Green, from the Rainham Horticultural Society who says he waited a year for his plot of land, said: “This decision [by the council] is, to be honest, barmy as on the present site we have no vacant plots and a waiting list.

‘Heritage’

“Although the council says it will develop 0.6 of an acre of the land, this doesn’t take into consideration future growth and demand.”

He added that one allotment user told him: “We dug for victory on that land during the war, and we need to preserve as much of Rainham’s heritage as we can.”

Allotment user Bob Farnsworth said: “A freedom of information statement in 2010 stated that the council had 960 plots over 23 sites and that 300 were on the waiting lists.

“Development in this less affluent part of the borough is not welcome. We have no spare school places, no spare health resources and it seems, less leisure opportunities.”

Cllr Roger Ramsey, cabinet member for value, said: “Some of this disused land in Rainham will be used to extend the allotments in Melville Road, helping meet the demand for allotment plots locally.

“The rest of the site will go to provide new, much-needed family homes with gardens for residents.

“We are working with Hornchurch and District Allotments and Gardening Society, which manages this site, on the finer details of the proposals, such as how many plots would be provided, and where, and facilities such as extra car parking, water supplies and fencing.”

Allotment holders will meet on Monday, November 19, at Rainham Methodist Church Hall to discuss their next steps.

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