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Farm Terrace Allotment holders bring campaign to BBC's Inside Out London television programme
Campaigners fighting to save an allotment in Watford from being built on have presented their case on television.
The BBC's Inside Out London visited the Farm Terrace Allotments to meet with plot holders, politicians and the chairman of the hospital trust, and the programme was broadcast last night.
Presenter Matthew Wright explained how a group of allotment holders was using social media and crowd-funding to stop the council from building on the site.
Watford Borough Council, alongside the local health trust and Kier, is ploughing on with plans to build 700 homes and new health facilities on the land surrounding the hospital, including the allotments.
On the programme, mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill said: "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to redevelop a really hideous, derelict site, and make a completely new community for Watford, including homes, plans to enable our hospital to stay in the town, jobs and quality open spaces people can enjoy."
The health campus proposal was historically a new hospital project with some housing added on.
The plans have been criticised by allotment holders, including Sara Jane Trebar, who suggested their plots would be used to build a car park for Watford football club houses, rather than a hospital.
Ms Thornhill said the most recent "indicative master-plan" showed a balance of 60 per cent housing and 40 per cent hospital use.
Part of the problem is that the hospital trust has not yet completed its "clinical strategy" and cannot be sure what services is wants to keep on the Watford site.
Sam Jones, chief executive of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, added: "We are looking at our services now and for the next 15 years. I can’t tell you what is going to go on the allotments but the flexibility enables us to get the right services in the right place."
As far as building on the allotments goes, Adam Hundt, partner at Deighton Peirce Glyn, said the secretary of state had to give consent to any council that wants to build on allotments.
The decision hinges on whether the fact that the allotments were still used could be overridden by the public interest in the development going ahead.
Ms Thornhill said: "We are carrying on with the plans because this is too big and important.
"A recent consultation showed 70 per cent of residents were in favour and want us to just get on with it."
Ms Trebar said the allotment holders had gained support on Twitter and had raised £13,000 of "crowdfunding" online to fight their case.
The programme summed up by suggesting the outcome of the Farm Terrace Allotment decision could change allotment history forever.
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