PARK ROAD ALLOTMENT GARDENS

AND SYON’S PARKLAND SAVED

AMAZING AND GREAT NEWS – the Inquiry Inspector dismissed the Northumberland Estate’s Appeal.  This ruling prevents the proposed substantial build on Park Road Allotment Gardens. 

Equal reason to celebrate is that this also rules out imposing allotments beside the Lion Gates within Grade l listed Syon Park.  The parkland is one of only four in London to survive largely intact designed by renowned 18thC landscape gardener, Capability Brown.

Taking Rule 6 to become a full party in supporting efforts to overturn the Appeal was an unprecedented step for TIS, little realising how much painstaking work was involved in gathering, collating and presenting documentary evidence to meet a strict timetable. 

Loss of Local Open Space was a principal objection to building on an allotment site set aside for this purpose in 1917 by an earlier Duke of Northumberland.  At the planning stage no “affordable housing” was offered. It came as a shock to TIS to find how easy it was for the Estate to change core aspects of an application previously turned aside by the Council.   By the time of the Inquiry some affordable housing had been introduced, albeit not the social housing the Borough needs. The Inspector ruled that despite the Estate’s “undisputed assertion it could simply close the allotments overnight that would not remove the land’s Local Open Space designation”.

TIS strongly opposed the planned re-location of allotments within Syon Park. The proposed site close to the Grade l listed, Robert Adam designed, Lion Gates within Metropolitan Open Land would have hugely damaged the parkland. This view was shared by Garden Trust’s volunteer Kate Harwood whose support and evidence were invaluable.  Help was also enlisted from expert witness Laurie Handcock of Iceni Projects.  His evidence covered heritage and conservation issues arising from both the Estate’s proposals, highlighting the harm that would result to Syon Park’s landscape deliberately designed to be open, as well as to Isleworth Riverside Conservation Area through loss of Local Open Space.

Support from the local community and allotment holders was tremendous, some 25 individuals provided witness statements. A deep debt of gratitude is owed to all who helped achieve an outcome far from a forgone conclusion. Biggest thanks are due to barrister, Charlotte Gilmartin of Crown Office Row.  After an initial false start in accessing legal advice, when the Society’s committee was taken aback by the likely expenditure involved, through a charity, Environmental Law Foundation, Charlotte offered her services pro bono.  She expertly guided the Society through the process; without this involvement TIS’s participation would have been in jeopardy.

On the Estate’s assertion about closure of the allotments, plot holders present and future can take comfort from the Inspector’s report stating “I cannot understand why the Estate would choose to do so since that would be in nobody’s interest and would hardly add to the record of good custodianship of its land in the area.  I note in this regard the Asset of Community Value judgement’s conclusion that ‘there is no reason to expect that the demand for allotments will decrease and on the basis of the expressed support it is likely to increase’”. To this end all possible avenues will be pursued to secure longevity of this unique Local Open Space within Isleworth Riverside Conservation Area. Its value is enhanced by the fact it continues to uphold Isleworth’s long held tradition of growing fruit and vegetables, as well as the site providing a haven for wildlife.