Question from: County Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe Subject: Loss of Allotment space in Hay
Today I received an email off the local allotment society in Hay notifying me that they have been given a years notice to vacate the allotments behind the council offices in Hay by PCC. First of all as local member I would like to raise my disappointment that I was not notified or any discussions around the removal of these 3 allotments in Hay. For many years the Hay community has sought to expand its allocation of allotments and that is shown with an 8 year wait for spaces to come free. I worked with Hay Town council, BBNP and PCC on developing a town plan and in that it identified the need for more space for allotments and growing spaces in Hay.
Please can you provide a response to the following questions?
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
Many thanks for your enquiry of 7 May.
It is always the aim to keep Local Members updated of Council decisions that may affect their Ward, and I’m sure you will agree that given the many issues in Hay in recent years we have always sought to keep you updated. Work pressures involving Covid 19 priorities meant that on this occasion Property Offices were not able to update you of the proposal.
Following a review of the future of the former Council Offices in Hay, I was able to confirm that it served no operational or service need and should be declared surplus and sold on the open market. The Town Council were informed of this decision and their request to remain temporarily in part of the building under an interim Licence arrangement has been supported. Marketing of the property will commence as soon as Covid 19 restrictions permit.
Part of the site comprises the original garden which had been utilised as a small number of allotments under an Agreement which allowed 12 months notice to be served in order to gain possession. It was concluded that it was practical to include this land when marketing the building as this was prudent estate management ensuring the optimum capital receipt was gained and releasing the Council of all future maintenance liability for the extensive boundary wall. It also meant that any rights of access over the Council Offices’ paths would not exist, this is an important consideration with regards public liability.
The Council have not formally engaged in any planning discussion with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and considers that prospective purchases/interested parties may make their own enquires based on their proposals for the building and site.
The land that comprises the allotments is not considered to be a designated allotment under statute and consequently Welsh Minister approval is not deemed to be required to serve notice or to dispose of the site. The land was not originally acquired for allotment purpose.
With regards providing replacement land for the loss of these growing spaces it is proposed to have further discussion with the Town Council with regards land it is purchasing for the Cemetery extension which is conveniently located and has level access. You will be aware that my Council is providing substantial funding to assist in this purchase to enable part of the land to be developed for a much needed cemetery extension. A significant part of the site being purchased is not immediately required for Cemetery use and it seems an ideal location to provide growing spaces.