Farm Terrace Allotments: 'David versus Goliath' fight to be taken to High Court

Farm Terrace Allotments: 'David versus Goliath' fight to be taken to High Court

Farm Terrace Allotments: 'David versus Goliath' fight to be taken to High Court

First published in News
Last updated
Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Allotment-holders would not have fought plans to concrete over the Farm Terrace site if they genuinely believed it would used for new hospital facilities, according to its lead campaigner.

Sara Jane Trebar said it was the realisation that the 100-year-old allotments would be mainly used for homes and later a car park that fuelled its tenants opposition.

The allotment-holders are taking the decision by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to include the Farm Terrace in the health campus scheme to a judicial review at the High Court tomorrow.

The hearing marks a significant point in the long battle between Watford Borough Council and plot-holders over the fertile patch of land behind Vicarage Road.  

This week Mrs Trebar told the Watford Observer about why plot-holders had dug-in and resisted plans to build over the allotments so energetically.

The 42-year-old who lives in West Watford first applied for the plot at Farm Terrace as her family’s garden was not very large and they wanted somewhere to grow fresh vegetables.

She said the allotment quickly became an important feature in her family’s life.

Watford Observer:

ALSO READ: Preserving site would 'close the door' on future hospital development says mayor

"It was an absolute life line as we could spend all day there," she said. "The kids could run about while we could de-stress while gardening."

The mother-of-three described the news in 2012 that Watford Council wanted to build on the allotments as part of the new health campus scheme as "absolutely devastating".

However she and most of the plot-holders initially accepted the decision as they were told the land was needed for new Watford General Hospital facilities.

Yet opposition to the move grew as it became apparent the health trust in charge of Watford General had no solid plans to expand.

Mrs Trebar’s own involvement in the campaign came after she posted a "rant" on Facebook about the Farm Terrace situation. She said she was surprised by supportive response she received, which made her realise there was considerable public sympathy for the plot-holders plight.

She then opened up a new front in the battle with the council by launching a pugnacious campaign on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The campaign started to garner support from a wider network of allotment-holders across the UK and even from the odd celebrity, such as former popstar Kim Wilde.

As Farm Terrace began to attract more attention online, Mrs Trebar began to use its growing profile to fundraise for the cause.

To date the campaign has raised more than £15,000 in donations. 

The cash was put to use mounting legal challenge to the permission Watford Borough Council received from the Department of Communities and Local Government to build on the allotment land.

Watford Observer:

Mrs Trebar said: "They did not envisage the strength of support from local residents and also nationally. I think for a lot of people it is David verses Goliath. It was never our intention to go to court as we thought if we showed how much support there was the council would step down.

"It has been extremely hard to fight the propaganda, as if you stand on the road and ask people if they want a health campus instead of allotments they would say yes as they assume there would be some health care provision.

"But if you ask them if they want a housing estate or allotments then they all say allotments.

"Never for a moment, if we though the hospital needed the land for development would we have fought it so hard."

Follow our live coverage of the judicial review from the High Court on the Watford Observer website tomorrow.

Comments (6)

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6:25pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Veritas says...

These people deserve a Knighthood, for standing up to this disgusting
bullying mayor and Council.

Truth has to be a part of Local government, not lies and Spin.

As she points out, the propaganda from the Council has been
unbelievable, there needs to be an investigation into all their
lies.

Shame the opposition is so timid and weak, as not to bring the fibs to task.

Dotty and the Fibs should have been run out of Office a long time
ago
These people deserve a Knighthood, for standing up to this disgusting bullying mayor and Council. Truth has to be a part of Local government, not lies and Spin. As she points out, the propaganda from the Council has been unbelievable, there needs to be an investigation into all their lies. Shame the opposition is so timid and weak, as not to bring the fibs to task. Dotty and the Fibs should have been run out of Office a long time ago Veritas
  • Score: 17

6:52pm Thu 24 Jul 14

watford gal says...

Wouldn't it have been lovely if the Watford Observer had backed the campaigners at Farm Terrace from the outset. In fact the WO has been not been supportive at all, but sensing (finally) the huge support and significance of this case for allotments all over the country which are being sold off at huge profits for greedy developers, it has finally had to get it's act together! .. How ironic that they chose the night before the judicial review (which is an amazing achievement), the local residents finally get to read the facts. Good luck to you all tomorrow, you have such an amazingly strong case and you deserve to win ! It's about time people stood up for the rights of the little people against the fat cats and the dodgy dealers...and of course the liars who tried to deceive us !
Wouldn't it have been lovely if the Watford Observer had backed the campaigners at Farm Terrace from the outset. In fact the WO has been not been supportive at all, but sensing (finally) the huge support and significance of this case for allotments all over the country which are being sold off at huge profits for greedy developers, it has finally had to get it's act together! .. How ironic that they chose the night before the judicial review (which is an amazing achievement), the local residents finally get to read the facts. Good luck to you all tomorrow, you have such an amazingly strong case and you deserve to win ! It's about time people stood up for the rights of the little people against the fat cats and the dodgy dealers...and of course the liars who tried to deceive us ! watford gal
  • Score: 16

7:16pm Thu 24 Jul 14

ancientandageing says...

While I agree with most of what Veritas says the fact is that the opposition in council is that "in council" and will be weak untill the good people of Watford get rid of a few more Lib Dems! Dotty will be a defacto elected dictator or tyrant impossing her will which reflects a sizable minority on the rest of us. The opposition will.

My understanding is that local cllrs have supported the Allotmonters without taking over, that Farm Terrace have sought to be cross party and that this suited them.

but enough of that in this case I shall repeat myself

I hear that in days gone by the doubters said it could not be done, but Sara and the farm terrace fight club have made it clear they shall fight the tyrants in the council meetings, fight them in the hustings, fight them on the terrace and fight them in the courts! For this is a fight for all allotments they will never surrender, in future years it shall be said never in the field of allotment gardening has so much be owed by so many to so few

Go for it allotment heroes
While I agree with most of what Veritas says the fact is that the opposition in council is that "in council" and will be weak untill the good people of Watford get rid of a few more Lib Dems! Dotty will be a defacto elected dictator or tyrant impossing her will which reflects a sizable minority on the rest of us. The opposition will. My understanding is that local cllrs have supported the Allotmonters without taking over, that Farm Terrace have sought to be cross party and that this suited them. but enough of that in this case I shall repeat myself I hear that in days gone by the doubters said it could not be done, but Sara and the farm terrace fight club have made it clear they shall fight the tyrants in the council meetings, fight them in the hustings, fight them on the terrace and fight them in the courts! For this is a fight for all allotments they will never surrender, in future years it shall be said never in the field of allotment gardening has so much be owed by so many to so few Go for it allotment heroes ancientandageing
  • Score: 3

2:04am Fri 25 Jul 14

Veritas says...

Farm Terrace are a small group, but they managed to Get to take Dottys Dodgy Council to the High Court, So the Opposition, can't ask a few
questions?

Here is one, why did Ian Mather ex Allotment Manager get Redundancy and a Bloody Pension, when he was Convicted of a Serious Crime, something so disgusting!!

Seems Watford Council reward bad Behaviour? Would have been a good time to save us tax payers some money?
Farm Terrace are a small group, but they managed to Get to take Dottys Dodgy Council to the High Court, So the Opposition, can't ask a few questions? Here is one, why did Ian Mather ex Allotment Manager get Redundancy and a Bloody Pension, when he was Convicted of a Serious Crime, something so disgusting!! Seems Watford Council reward bad Behaviour? Would have been a good time to save us tax payers some money? Veritas
  • Score: 1

7:45am Fri 25 Jul 14

ancientandageing says...

@Watford Gal said "Wouldn't it have been lovely if the Watford Observer had backed the campaigners at Farm Terrace from the outset"

They didn't and that reflects badly on them, new media of Twitter and Facebook have on the otherhand been most effective, the future looks brighter for FarmTerrace than the WO IMHO
@Watford Gal said "Wouldn't it have been lovely if the Watford Observer had backed the campaigners at Farm Terrace from the outset" They didn't and that reflects badly on them, new media of Twitter and Facebook have on the otherhand been most effective, the future looks brighter for FarmTerrace than the WO IMHO ancientandageing
  • Score: 6

9:44am Fri 25 Jul 14

Veritas says...

Yes indeed, a bit more national coverage should shame the observer.

Main thing we all know how bad the observer is in reporting the truth about Dotty.

Yet last week front page, £4 million to be spent on Cassiobury park?

4 million on Pond, lame reporters should be reporting on how disgusted and dissatisfied members of public are with work and cost
of that part of town.
Yes indeed, a bit more national coverage should shame the observer. Main thing we all know how bad the observer is in reporting the truth about Dotty. Yet last week front page, £4 million to be spent on Cassiobury park? 4 million on Pond, lame reporters should be reporting on how disgusted and dissatisfied members of public are with work and cost of that part of town. Veritas
  • Score: 7

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