When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Allotments plan for Cogges estate
A NEW housing estate could be built at Cogges as part of a deal that would also see new allotments created.
A 3.5-acre strip of land behind Cogges Manor Farm has been suggested for new plots. Landowner James Mawle said he could turn the site into allotments to help alleviate the waiting list, which has 117 people on it. But he said it is only likely to happen if he gets the go-ahead to redevelop about 100 acres of land he owns at Cogges. Mr Mawle said: “We have a masterplan to develop all the land we own there, and that includes 450 dwellings, and an allotment on the site behind the museum.”
His suggestion has been backed by gardeners and allotment holders. Andy Howells, chairman of the Witney Allotment Association, said: “I think it is a good site for an allotment.
“It is close to fairly concentrated housing. Anything near to where people live is good. “Obviously you would need to run soil tests to make sure it is not contaminated, and check that it is not liable to flooding.”
Writer Richard Mackenzie applied for an allotment in Witney three years ago and was told at the time there was a two-year wait.
Now he is 28th on the waiting list. He said: “We have a two-year-old son.
“He is the right age to start gardening.
“I want to start growing things and be able to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for my family.
“There is a social justice aspect to it as well – there are 117 people who want to be part of the allotment community and culture.”
The thin strip of land suggested is next to housing, making water provision easier, and has access from both ends.
After a lengthy battle with the trust, the county’s compulsory purchase order for the land was rejected by the Department for Transport in June.
Chris Hargraves, planning policy manager for West Oxfordshire District Council , said the council needed extra information on the land’s suitability for housing before deciding whether it could be developed.
Witney Town Council is responsible for providing land for allotments in the town. Jeanette Baker, a member of the town council’s leisure and recreation committee, said: “The council is actively seeking new land for allotments and shows commitment to the existing provision by continuing to maintain and invest in improvements to existing sites managed by the allotment association.”
She declined to say if the town council would back the Mawle Trust’s plans. Witney Allotment Association manages 175 plots on three sites – Lakeside, Hailey Road and Newland – while Witney Town Council retains control of four allotment plots off Park Road.