Save Farm Terrace campaigners are petitioning the Government to give more protection to allotments.

Watford’s Sara Jane Trebar, who has led the fight to stop Watford’s historic Farm Terrace allotments being built on in the Health Campus plan, started the petition addressed to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles two days ago - and already has 6,000 supporters.

In the letter, Ms Trebar said: "Councils across the UK are currently selling off allotment land to developers, and if we don’t act now we will see these special plots of land slip away from us.

"Many allotments are on land that has become valuable and the last few years has seen a disturbing trend where councils have increased requests to deregulate allotments in favour of property development that do not always best serve local needs."

Ms Trebar, 42, from West Watford, has argued that allotments have formed a vital part of UK life since Victorian times.

She claims the plots provide communities with a means to grow food whilst enjoying the health benefits gained from gardening and eating organic produce.

Ms Trebar criticised the use of ‘exceptional circumstances’ to justify building on allotments, saying the Government’s deregulation has given councils the power to develop the land.

She said: "The council says that even though the criteria for building on allotments are not met, they should be allowed to do so because of ‘exceptional circumstances’.

"The exceptional circumstances are that the development will generate money. The Government have deregulated allotments, giving councils power to build on them, to make a few pounds without regard for what is good for local areas.

"I believe that allotment sites across the UK require more protection, not less.

"I’m calling on the government to review the criteria to deregulate allotments and tighten it in favour of the protection of allotments.

"They provide valuable green space and much needed community gardening access in built up areas."

Save Farm Terrace has won two court cases to stop Watford Council developing the land as part of its Health Campus project.

However, the authority has resubmitted its application to the Government for a third attempt.