ANGRY Wellesbourne allotment plot holders say it would ‘devastate’ the whole community if the site was sold.
Coventry Diocese hope to sell the land – one of the oldest allotment sites in the country – on Kineton Road to build 50 homes.
But plot holders say losing the 176 year-old site would be like ‘splitting the community in two’. One woman was so upset to hear the news she ‘burst into tears’.
If Stratford District Council approve the plans it would be the end for the site, where green-fingered residents have been growing fruit and vegetables since 1841.
More than 100 people attended a parish council meeting this week to voice their concerns and sign a petition opposing the plans, which is set to be handed in to the district council.
Wellesbourne Allotment Association chairman Ian Hope said: “It came as a great shock to learn from a church representative that Coventry Diocese is seeking to move us off. The allotments provide more than food for our tenants.
“They form a valuable social focal point for all areas of our community, including the elderly, families and the less privileged, as well as providing the many proven physical and mental benefits of outdoor exercise.
“It would be like splitting a community in two. It’s taken 20 years to get where we are today. We have a waiting list for people who want to join us.
‘It has to be one of the oldest allotments in the country and has sustained poor labourers and their families with food since the times of Joseph Arch and the agricultural union he founded close by.”
The site has previously hosted BBC Gardeners’ Question Time and also featured on Monty Don’s Big Dreams Small Spaces programme earlier this year.
Allotment treasurer Ken Manning says plot holders are angry at the plans after spending so many years tending to their crops. He is also concerned many residents are too old to want to start over again.
And one member of the allotment association, 73 year-old Pat McDonaugh, shares an allotment with her brother and sister which they inherited from their father who had it the 1950s.
She said: “It was my father’s lifelong interest. He had three allotments during the 1950s.
“We grew up during the war time and allotments during the war time were an important source of food so we all appreciated them.
“Many people here are elderly and if we were moved on I don’t think they would have the time or the energy in their lives to start another allotment plot all over again.”
A diocese spokesman said the sale of the land would be subject to planning permission being granted.
He added: “As part of the normal planning consultation process, the local community would have the opportunity to express their views before any planning permission is granted.
“Any planning permission would be subject to normal development conditions which are attached to the development of former allotment land, which would protect the interests of allotment holders.”