Fighting for Flora

At London Road Station, we’re gardening on two tiny plots of land. We’re getting to the point where we could certainly work with more land. Every Open Day we have, more and more people express an interest in gardening with us, and in composting.

The piece of land opposite us on the North side bordering the railway line used to be allotments. I can remember passing through London Road Station back in the mid-1970s and being amazed by seeing rows of sweet corn, beans, lettuces and beautiful flowers in such an urban environment, only two minutes out from the centre of Brighton. It was like arriving at a quiet oasis, almost lost in time. The original platform canopy was still there in those days, and I remember the impression was one of an Agatha Christie period film.

Sadly, the old canopy on the North platform was demolished in the 1990s. More recently, the ‘old allotments’ site itself was sold on to a developer. The proposal to build flats on the site right next to the railway, and in an area of very high housing density, was energetically fought (neighbours got together as FLORA – Friends of London Road Station Allotments), but was finally given the go-ahead at a national appeal.

So far, no building has taken place, but a planning application has been resubmitted for building flats on this site (you can find it on Brighton & Hove’s planning site here). The area has now grown up with trees and shrubs. It is acknowledged that the railway line is an important wildlife corridor.

We’d love to think… that in an area where there is very little green space immediately available, and where many households are living in flats without gardens, the ‘old allotments’ could become the much needed ‘new allotments’ – a focus for the local community, as our existing LRSP gardens have shown is possible.

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2 Responses to Fighting for Flora

  1. Steve Lawrenson says:

    If there is already a planning permission on the land then presumably the only way to secure the site as allotments would be to buy it from the developer at “current use” value plus whatever they would make in profit. They would also need to be convinced that the certainty of “a quick buck” is better than the excitement of developing the site.

    I’d be happy to help with a residual valuation so that you can get an idea of what might be in the developer’s mind.

    It might be that the money could be raised through a Community Trust guaranteeing a mortgage or some such arrangement.

    • Many thanks, Steve. The application for extension to planning permission should be coming to a Brighton & Hove Planning Committee. We’ll see what the outcome of that is, and then look further. The Community Trust idea is a possible useful way forward.

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