ALLOTMENT holders in Scholes have won the right to put together a community bid to buy their much cherished plots - and safeguard them against being eaten up by a potential 800-home housing development.
Barwick-in-Elmet and Scholes Parish Council has successfully bid on behalf of local plot holders for the 24-plot site to be included on Leeds city council’s official List of Assets of Community Value.
The listing allows locals to come up with a ‘first dibs’ business plan to buy the land outright, on the grounds that it is of particular cultural, recreational or social interest to the local community and should therefore be preserved.
Concerns had been raised that the plots - which have been part of the village since 1941 and have a three-year waiting list - could attract the attentions of house builders. This was because the current landowner, who owns a large expanse of land incorporating the allotment site, has an agreement with a major developer that, if they can get planning permission, they have first option to buy the land.
The agreement has led to fears that the allotment plots could eventually be reclaimed, despite the potential developer - the Scholes Development Company Ltd - saying that they have “no long term intention to development the allotment site”.
A report just approved by the council says: “The Scholes Development Company Limited...have developed a vision document to develop the overall land into 800 houses within the vicinity of the allotments.
“The document makes it clear that the allotments are not included as part of the housing development, however the Parish Council is concerned that the developer has the right to develop the site if they wish.”
Early evaluations have found the allotment plots are worth about £150,000. The report says this is a “realistic” amount, citing other successful examples of community bids, such as Woodhouse Community Centre and the Friends of Bramley Baths, who raised £440,000 and £75,000 respectively for their projects.
The landowner has officially objected to the listing request, the report adds, “as he feels the site already has protected status”. However it has no statutory protection under the Allotment Act 1950.