Allotment crop compensation row

Allotment gardeners moved off established plots at Sheringham are angry at low levels of compensation being offered to them.

Eighty plots on the Weybourne Road were replaced by 200 new ones in a land swap deal between the town council and neighbouring landowner Clive Hay Smith who wanted to use the old allotment site for a Waitrose supermarket.

The Greenhouse Community Project, which has since had its store and food academy scheme turned down by planners, provided new allotments with prepared ground, sheds and fencing.

But allotment holders are entitled to compensation for their old plots including the lost crops.

Town councillors voted through a working party's recommended deal, but the local allotment association used a public question slot to air their unhappiness at the figures.

Spokesman David Brooks said there were omissions and errors in the report on which the figures were based, and that the sums were 30-50pc the true value of the crops.

Councillor Peter Cox, speaking for the working party, said they had no help from allotment experts, so had to rely on an allotment law book and survey of plots many of which were overgrown.

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The council agreed the compensation figures without any debate.

Afterwards Mr Brooks said about 60 people would get payments ranging from �9 to �126 and totalling �3,500 to reflect lost perennial crops such as soft fruit bushes, strawberries and rhubarb.

He said the council should have involved the society at the outset, but they had only been negotiating for two weeks. It had now done all it could and it was down to individual plotholders who were unhappy with their figures to appeal to the government's Defra department.

?The council heard that the winners of the storewars battle, Tesco, was likely to offer a replacement community centre – which is part of the scheme – to Norfolk County Council at a peppercorn rent.

Mac McGinn asked councillors to approach the county council, which owns the current building on Cromer Road, to say whether it would want to be responsible for the new venue off Hilbre Road, or, because of spending cuts, pass it down to the town council. But members agreed to defer a decision for a week until they had all seen a draft letter.