- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Land bought by the government under compulsory order should be sold to communities to grow food and produce, Assembly Member Joyce Watson has suggested.
The Welsh Government is looking at ways to improve the availability of allotments and community gardens. The Mid and West Wales AM said surplus land from government construction projects should be offered for sale to community groups before private investors.
Speaking at Tuesday’s (27 January) Plenary session at the Senedd, Mrs Watson cited the case of Carmarthenshire village, Red Roses. After a drawn out bidding process, the Welsh Government recently agreed to sell land purchased as part of the £68 million A477 bypass project to the community council.
Joyce Watson AM said:
“My office has been involved in a case concerning the village of Red Roses on the St Clears road. Building work for the new bypass meant a piece of land became available, which the community wanted to use to grow food for local use, fundraising and that sort of thing. I’m happy to report that the Welsh Government has now agreed to offer to sell it to the community council.
“I understand the original plan was to divide up the land and auction it off, which would’ve raised more money, no doubt, but the community would’ve lost out. I highlight this case, Minister, because if you look at this particular case and if you discuss it with other colleagues in the Cabinet, I think it might provide a useful case study: where land is purchased under compulsory orders for road-building projects or anything else, it could provide a rare opportunity for communities to buy up that land for use, perhaps, for allotments. Maybe I might suggest, Minister, that the Government could be proactive by actually approaching community councils or other organisations when land is purchased to ask whether they would like to organise a community bid.”
The minister for planning, Carl Sargeant AM, said it was an interesting case and agreed to discuss it with cabinet colleagues.
Announcing the outcome of the consultation on Improving the availability of allotments and community gardens, a Welsh Government Green Paper, the minister confirmed that new guidance is being produced which will help establish new sites, improve site management, ease planning concerns and better manage waiting lists. This will be done in partnership with community representatives and local government in order to maximise all potential opportunities to further the growth of allotments.