Village lost thousands of pounds after two-year delay to allotments

Mulbarton Parish Council Chairman Peter Leigh looks over the fields where 180 homes are to be built.

Mulbarton Parish Council Chairman Peter Leigh looks over the fields where 180 homes are to be built. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

Delays to allotments promised by a housing developer has cost a village thousands of pounds in legal fees and lost rent, according to councillors.

Mulbarton Parish Council has been pushing for the handover of two new allotment sites, created by housing developer Hopkins Homes, since July 2017.

The allotments were created as a condition of a Section 106 agreement on its Oakley Park development, in which it agreed the 0.6 hectare plots would be completed and handed over to the parish council by the time the 90th home was occupied.

But two years on, the allotments remain unfinished.

Peter Leigh, chairman of Mulbarton Parish Council, said not only was the delay disappointing for those on the waiting list, but also a strain on village finances.

In August last year the council called in the assistance of a lawyer to correspond with the developer, after struggling to agree a completion date.

Mr Leigh said as well as legal fees, the council had missed out on £1,400 in rent and the village was yet to feel the benefit of the hundreds of new homes, which many villagers strongly opposed at the time of application.

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He said: "The Parish Council's reputation as a well managed organisation has been brought into question by the failure of others to carry out their responsibilities. Volunteers have had to send over 125 emails as well as visiting the sites and explaining to potential allotment holders why we have not handed over the plots as per our original schedule. It's extremely frustrating."

The section 106 agreement specifies that the allotments must be served by amenities, including running water on site.

Hopkins Homes said it was waiting on approval from Anglian Water to open the site to ensure it was compliant with the specifications but expected the issue to be resolved by the end of summer.

Christopher Smith, development manager for the company, said: "The allotments have been created in line with our Section 106 obligations for some time. However, delays to completing the necessary inspection and approval of the allotment's water supply have prevented the formal transfer from taking place.

"Anglian Water completed their inspection two days ago and we therefore expect to receive the approval we have been waiting for shortly. Once this approval has been received, and the connection to their supply network has been made, the transfer of the allotments can take place quickly and the local community can begin to use and enjoy their new facility."