Gardeners have been evicted from Farm Terrace Allotments in Watford after losing a last-ditch battle at the High Court to save plots from the bulldozers.

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The fight to save Farm Terrace became the UK’s highest-profile allotment dispute – but the historic plots, which date back to 1896, will now be flattened to make way for a hospital and new housing.

A Farm Terrace spokeswoman said it was the “end of a long, emotional battle” which had previously seen plot-holders go to the High Court in 2014 where they overturned a decision by Eric Pickles, secretary of state, to de-regulate the allotments.

The spokeswoman said: “This [latest] judgement is a developers’ charter for any allotment site and could wipe out urban allotments forever.

“We are worried about the ramifications for all allotments.

“As our case has shown, they can now be offered as a ‘blank cheque’ for cash-hungry developers and councils.”

The spokeswoman added: “This is the end of the road for us. We gave up the keys to plots that are still growing fruit and vegetables and are still much-loved, so the bulldozers can move in. It’s totally heart-breaking.”

The High Court upheld the secretary of state’s decision that Farm Terrace Allotments should become part of the Watford Health Campus.

Mrs Justice Lang said: “Given the allocation of new allotments nearby, assistance to re-locate, and financial compensation to the allotment-holders, I consider that a fair balance has been struck.”

Mayor of Watford, Baroness Dorothy Thornhill, said: “We have done everything we can to work with the few remaining allotment-holders on relocation and compensation.

“Anyone who wanted to continue as a plot-holder has been helped to do so.

“Many are on new sites and continue to be part of our thriving allotment community, which recently benefitted from an £850,000 investment programme.”