Matlock Town Council launches fighting fund for compulsory purchase of Starkholmes allotments

The battle to save an allotment site in Starkholmes from potential sale and redevelopment is heating up after Matlock Town Council launched a fighting fund and raised the possibility of forcibly purchasing the land.

By Ed Dingwall
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 2:58 pm

At the corporate committee meeting on Monday, April 25, councillors agreed to begin feasibility assessments for a compulsory lease or purchase of the land, with a view to rededicate it as the ‘Starkholmes Jubilee Allotments’.

Deputy mayor Paul Cruise said: “These allotments are a jewel in the crown of Matlock. The whole community, allotment holders, local government and the landowner need to work together to find a positive way to maintain the allotments in their current location.

“What better way to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee than to have this wonderful community asset rededicated so that future generations can enjoy all the benefits allotments bring.”

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The Starkholmes allotments have been at the heart of the village for more than a century. (Photo: Sarah Parkin)

As the town council has limited funds and no experience in compulsory orders. Derbyshire Dales District Council will take responsibility for managing the legal process, supported by an initial £5,000 commitment from the town budget and will begin seeking other funding partners to meet legal and purchase costs.

In 2021, the landowner gave allotment holders 12 months notice to vacate the site, just as they were marking the centenary of the facility, as has since been reported as unwilling to enter negotiations.

Debating the new plan, town councillors acknowledged the owner’s right to sell or develop the land, but balanced this against the value of the site’s present use to to the local community.

Coun David Hughes said: “There can be no better place for allotments than the centre of a community. Starkholmes has grown up around the allotments that are older than many of the houses that make up the village.

“I hope our support will provide the stimulus needed to secure the allotments for future generations of Starkholmes residents.”

The town council is undertaking a parallel process to identify new allotment sites in the event the purchase fails and to meet current demand.