CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Bassett Street: Plea to let community gardeners stay on land

Councillor says he is 'happy to facilitate a meeting of minds'

01 August, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

Gardening club members John Langan and Keiran Proffer at the allotment

A FRESH plea to stop community gardeners from being turfed out of a council-owned plot in Kentish Town comes amid claims most of the people in the neighbouring block want them to stay.

The Town Hall has told an 80-strong gardening club in Bassett Street it must leave as part of a plan to give exclusive access to tenants and leaseholders living in a council block next door.

Residents met the gardeners at a meeting last week and said there was a majority opinion to keep things the way they are. Camden insists its own consultation survey of residents has paved the way for the change.

But a leaseholder, who owns two properties in the 30-flat block, told the New Journal that the decision to close the gardens “beggars belief”.

“We believe at most it is five people in the block who said they would like to use the garden – but Camden Council own the land, not the tenants or leaseholders,” they said. “I find it astonishing that public land should be made available to a tiny group of people who have never showed any interest in using it and already have outdoor space of their own.”

They added: “We are planning to help the gardening club save their space and will show the tenants and leaseholders feelings by organising a petition in their support. If anyone in the block wants to use the garden, all they have to do is apply for a plot.”

Rhyl school headteacher Helen Connor, whose school has used the garden for 10 years, told the New Journal: “Many of our families have their own plots which they tend and grow vegetables. These families all live in social housing and do not have acces to outside space. It is a valuable community asset. ”

She a dded: “I was extremely surprised to read in the CNJ that the council have decided to turn it into a private garden for a few residents. ”

Labour councillor Meric Apak

Housing chief Labour Councillor Meric Apak said: “Following the end of the three-year licence granted to the community garden project, we became aware of a number of differing opinions on how to best use this location.”

He added: “Going forward, the management of the garden will be agreed with the tenants and leaseholders living in 6-60 Bassett Street, and I am happy to facilitate a meeting of minds between the groups if that is what they want.”

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