Norden Councillors Fight Plans to Fence-off Recreational Grounds for 145-plot Allotment Development

Norden Councillors are opposing proposals to allocate 11,500m2 of recreational land, at the top of Hutchinson Road, for the development of 145 new allotment plots.  The site has been identified and shortlisted as part of a wider Council plan to create 500 new plots across Rochdale.

The proposal is to be brought before Rochdale Township Committee on Wednesday 13th March after the Environmental Management Service was tasked with creating 100 new plots each year, every year, for the next 5 years.  The scheme has been approved by Cabinet who have also provisionally allocated capital funding to enable delivery.  Members will be asked to approve a shortlist of sites, which includes Hutchinson Road, for change of use (subject to further technical assessments e.g. contamination surveys, planning permissions etc.) to new allotments.

Norden Councillor, Peter Winkler said: “I am not disputing that there is a waiting list for allotments or that time spent working on an allotment can be good for a person’s physical and mental health.  However, the proposed site in Norden is already offering recreational space which is used by a huge number of residents for a wide variety of activities, which offer the same benefits.”

“This proposal would involve fencing off the area and restricting access through the site which is used by many adults and children.  While 145 people (not all Norden residents) would get an allotment, thousands more would lose the right to use the space recreationally, as they have for decades.”

“Hutchinson Road, which is the only road access to the site, is a narrow residential street which already struggles with traffic volumes.  I would hate to see what would happen if vehicles attempted to access 145 new allotment plots every week.  There is also the danger that the increased traffic would pose to the children who access play areas in the immediate area.”

“I have spoken to residents in the surrounding area and they were shocked and furious to find out that the land had been put onto the shortlist without public consultation.  No notifications have been issued to adjoining properties so it is unlikely that affected members of the public will be aware of the plan and able to raise any objections at the Rochdale Township meeting.  I will certainly be speaking on their behalf and opposing the inclusion of this site.”

A report to be presented at the Rochdale Township Committee describes the site as:  A large grassed area with a formal play area, with no rights or way or paths.  Comments which have already been disputed by angry residents who claim that the land is crossed by walkers in all directions many times every day and has de facto rights of way.  Locals also claim the site was historically bequeathed to the children of Norden as an area of recreational land and are insisting that it must be removed from the shortlist.