National Allotment Society hits out against Farm Terrace ruling

The National Allotment Society (NAS) has said it is disappointed that a court decision will bring to an end the use of land at Farm Terrace, Watford as an allotment site.

Commenting on the judgment made in the recent Judicial Review, NAS said: "We would like to praise the Farm Terrace Allotment holders for the unstinting effort in their attempt to save this historic site.

"In these days when Government concerns are so focused on the health of the nation, we find it regrettable that Watford Council could not have had the vision to incorporate an allotment site into part of this hospital development.  A growing number of authorities now include allotment growing as part of their Social Prescribing offer, an initiative that has an increasing significance in the management of health issues.  It is unfortunate that this decision has not taken account of this approach and the NAS see this as an opportunity lost.

This judgement, heard in the High Court by the Hon Mrs Justice Lang, confirmed that the Secretary of State had applied the guidelines in the "Allotment disposal guidance: safeguards and alternatives" (Jan. 2014) document correctly. The 2014 document contained no new legislation; however it did bring together in one place, policies and guidelines that had been in existence for many years and clarified procedure. It was outlined within this judgment that where the Secretary of State is asked to rely upon the ‘exceptional circumstances’ mentioned in the guidelines, that it is "not for the Secretary of State to make out the case but rather it is for the Council to do so in accordance with the judge’s interpretation.

NAS added: "Although the decision itself went against Farm Terrace there are many useful comments within the Judgment that the National Society can rely on to protect allotment sites in the future.  Within this judgment we now have a legal definition for ‘exceptional’. This judgment has also confirmed that the underlying purpose of the Allotments Act 1925 is to control the disposal of allotment land and that the guidance affords greater safeguards against the appropriation of land because of the value placed on allotments by the Secretary of State."

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