As spokesperson for the Farm Terrace Allotment group, I felt it was my duty to write to you about the proposed development of a multi-storey car park on our beloved allotment site.

To provide the previous history, the then mayor Dorothy Thornhill wrote to the allotment tenants in 2012 to inform us that some of the allotment land (around 40 per cent) would be needed for new hospital facilities to expand the current hospital site. However, we believed that right from the start the mayor and Watford Borough Council knew that, as there was no immediate funding for the hospital to build any new facilities, this part of the allotments would ultimately be used for car parks and flats! They said the remainder of the allotment site would be used for much needed family houses and a small parcel of green space. Oh the irony.

We knew of course that to the council an allotment site retained within the development would not look aesthetically pleasing. Also by gifting the land to Kier as part of the overall Health Campus development site it was not about retaining an asset that had been used by West Watford residents for over 125 years. It was and still is basically a land grab. As a resident in this densely populated and overcrowded part of Watford, I can see the need for family houses, however as we know from the now renamed Riverwell development over 90 per cent of this will be flats instead of family homes. Quite how this area of Watford will cope with nearly an extra 1,000 flats I do not understand.

However the main reason I am writing is to remind local residents of the fact that such was the then Mayor’s disdain for the allotment holders (for daring to challenge her and the Lib Dem party in Watford) that she made absolutely sure that there was no chance of compromise as she refused at every stage to even come and meet us!

Farm Terrace allotments date back to 1896 when the site was originally at least three times the size. They were vibrant and beautiful and full of nature and wildlife. Up until 2012 the allotments were 90 per cent occupied but while the campaign to save them continued Watford Borough Council refused to let any new tenants onto the site. The council also promised the Government as part of the site closure that these allotments would be replaced elsewhere within Watford. Unfortunately this has also never happened and only a small number have ever been replaced in Paddock Road, Oxhey.

Dorothy Thornhill and her cabinet always tried to make it sound like the allotment site was needed for a new hospital, but we fought so long and so hard because we knew it would be nothing more than a car park and a lot of flats. The artist’s impression makes me feel sick when I look back just a few years ago and remember what the land looked like.

The current Lib Dem council will try and convince us that this new Riverwell development will provide green open spaces and community facilities but we will make sure that everyone remembers that that was exactly what was there before and that in refusing to accept what we and local residents wanted, they are responsible for tearing apart a community and destroying a piece of Watford’s history to make way for a multi-storey car park.

Sara Jane Trebar

Souldern Street, Watford