Gardeners fighting to save their 119 year-old plots from developers have launched a petition to lobby Government in a bid to make it more difficult for councils to build on allotments.

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Farm Terrace Allotments in Watford made headlines in 2014 when gardeners won a High Court victory, stopping Watford Council from bulldozing the site.

But last month [January 2015] the 27 remaining plot-holders learned that the council was making a new bid to build on the site. (AG, 7 February).

A Farm Terrace spokeswoman said: “I have been shocked by how easy the process of closure is, and the way in which allotments are open to attack from developers.

“I naively presumed that allotments were privy to some historic law, forbidding development on them.”

Gardeners at Farm Terrace put in a Freedom of Information Act request and learned that, between 2007 and 2013, the Government only turned down four applications out of 132 to close allotment sites.

The spokeswoman added: “The government has been rubber-stamping applications for [allotment] deregulation without looking into details or genuinely consulting tenants.

“I am calling for changes in the law that would help to protect allotments – and not help councils to close them.

“If successful, this petition will result in a review debate at the House of Commons.”

The petition calls for a ban on councils being allowed to close allotment waiting lists before they have permission to shut the site. It demands mandatory consultation with tenant gardeners.

Amateur Gardening readers should go to http://change.org/SaveOurAllotments to sign the petition.