Mercury veg plot victory!

We dug in and emerged victorious – after just one week.

We launched a campaign to safeguard allotments last Thursday and by the end of the week David Cameron had pledged in the House of Commons that allotments would be protected.

Now we have the chance to form a Neighbourhood Plan to secure the future of growing spaces in the towns and villages of the Derbyshire Dales.

On Saturday, May 7, ministers announced new powers for communities to open more allotments.

The new Neighbourhood Plans will provide communities with powers to protect existing allotments and identify new plots.

Richard Bunting, of Matlock-based eco-group Little Green Space, said: “Steps by the Government to protect allotments and help communities create more growing spaces are tremendously positive.

“People would be horrified at anything less, and the outcry we saw in last week’s Mercury shows the strength of feeling in the communities.

“Increased powers for communities to demand more growing space is excellent news. Well done to the Mercury. Things are looking a lot more positive than they were only a week ago.”

Helen Cunningham, of Transmission Matlock and Matlock Food Hub, said: “We welcome any move that helps people to find growing spaces. If this enables that to happen we very much welcome that.

“We could develop a Neighbourhood Plan and develop suitable spaces in the villages and towns around Matlock.

“I live in Tansley and there are no allotments. I’m sure there are other places where allotments are in scarce supply.

“If we can get more community orchards, more places for children to grow food, that would be great.”

Patrick McLoughlin MP was delighted to confirm that protection for allotments is here to stay.

There were concerns, highlighted in the Mercury and raised in parliament, that the Government was planning to remove the century-old protection for allotments and sell off plots of land to private companies or for social housing.

But these concerns were quelled by the MP for Derbyshire Dales.

He said: “I can assure you that the Government recognises the importance of allotments and their value, both as green spaces and as popular community assets. I must emphasise that the Government will not be removing these protections for allotments.”

Planning minister Greg Clark announced the new community powers on Saturday, May 7.

He said that requirements for councils to provide allotments will be safeguarded as part of a wider review into reducing statutory burdens on local authorities.

Mr Clark said: “More and more people want to grow their own vegetables but sites are becoming unnecessarily difficult to come by. We need to stop this decline in allotments especially as people are so eager to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

“People who get behind Neighbourhood Plans and develop a scheme have real powers to not only protect existing sites but create more plots for the whole community to enjoy.”

Donna McDaid, national secretary of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners said: “It is great news that people can now help ensure allotments remain available to communities for years to come.”