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Allotments Make Way for Urban Regeneration Scheme

Allotments are immensely precious to those who tend them. However, one High Court case showed that the special protection that they enjoy against development must sometimes give way under the relentless pressure for new housing.

Allotments covering 2.6 hectares and dating back to 1882 had been targeted for construction of 69 homes as part of a broader urban regeneration scheme. At the behest of the local authority, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had granted permission under the Allotments Act 1925 for their compulsory purchase to make way for the development.

He said that the scheme was vital to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the area and that there was a compelling public interest in the compulsory acquisition. As required by the Act, the allotment holders would be paid monetary compensation and be offered alternative allotments elsewhere.

In rejecting one of the allotment holders’ judicial review challenge to the decision, the Court found that the Secretary of State had applied the right legal test in deciding that there were exceptional circumstances that justified the compulsory purchase. Concerns that the decision would open the floodgates to development of allotments around the country were misplaced and any interference with allotment holders’ human rights to freely enjoy their property was justified and proportionate.