Southwick allotment holder in land dispute with ‘totally irresponsible’ council

An allotment holder in Southwick has entered into a land dispute with Adur District Council.

Kevin Hartney has operated four conjoined allotments in Manor Hall Road since 2005, maintaining the plot primarily as a nature reserve.

Southwick Allotment holder Kevin Hartney, right, wants to take over disused land. Pictured with Mark Woodley. Photo by Derek Martin Photography.

Southwick Allotment holder Kevin Hartney, right, wants to take over disused land. Pictured with Mark Woodley. Photo by Derek Martin Photography.

Behind his plots sits about two acres of disused land, which Mr Hartney said is filled with 6ft high brambles that have ‘killed everything underneath’.

He has continually requested permission from the council for several years to rent the plot and convert it into a nature reserve, only to be told it is earmarked for development and being used by a conservation volunteer group.

Mr Hartney said he has seen no signs of development, nor a conservation group.

“I don’t believe they can build on this land, because it is totally land locked, there’s no way in apart from a very thin opening,” he said.

“I offered to develop it as a beautiful nature reserve and, if I was able to develop it in the way that I want to, it would even improve the air quality in the area.

“I think it is totally irresponsible for this council to be sitting on plots of land doing nothing when they could be making money from it and putting it to good use.”

Mr Hartney said he had offered to pay rent to the council and maintain the land with his friend, Mark Woodley.

He and Mr Woodley use solar power to run all the tools required for maintaining the land.

A spokesman for the council said: “We can confirm that the land adjacent to Manor Hall Road allotments had previously been considered for potential housing. However, after further review it has since been ruled out and the area allocated for green space.

“As part of the extremely successful Growing Communities scheme which is running in Eastbrook, we have asked The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) charity to use the land for environmental projects. These are free and open to anyone in the local community.

“TCV will be using the land as a base for a forest school and food growing project as well as bushcraft activities with local groups, scouts and schools. Planning on these activities is well underway and they are due to start in the coming months.”

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