Published on

12 July 2023

No growing pains at new eco-friendly allotments

A century-old allotment site at Twyford has undergone a modern makeover to benefit new and existing residents in Wokingham Borough

image of an allotment site with communal area including shed with solar panels and picnic tables

A century-old allotment site at Twyford has undergone a modern makeover to benefit new and existing residents in Wokingham Borough.

Existing but unused allotments off Hurst Road were given a spruce up to complement those already available at Keephatch Beech, off Diamond Jubilee Way.

They’re supported by green innovations including a shed with plug sockets powered by solar panels, as well as an odour-free "dry" or composting toilet that doesn’t use water or chemicals.

The council worked with Twyford Parish Council on this project, which is welcoming applications from residents of the Matthewsgreen area in the emerging new community at North Wokingham.

Planting the seeds of a greener future

The green features support the council's efforts to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030, which includes making new buildings and other infrastructure as energy efficient as possible.

The £33,000 scheme includes an attractive communal garden surfaced with woodchips, with seats and tables to encourage socialising – and perhaps some friendly growing competitions – to foster greater links between the Twyford and Matthewsgreen communities.

It was funded by contributions from developers building new homes in North Wokingham, as part of their obligation to fund new infrastructure for people living there.

The council recognises the need for this and requires developers to provide it through agreements linked to their planning permissions.

A similar scheme opened at Montague Park, in the new South Wokingham community, last summer. This was built by developers under planning conditions and then adopted by the council.

New communal seating area and eco toilet at Twyford allotments

Partnership makes perfect

Cllr Ian Shenton, executive member for environment, sport and leisure, said: "We were very happy to work with Twyford Parish Council in opening this site and look forward to seeing what residents can produce. Hopefully the beautiful setting will inspire people to roll up their sleeves and get growing.

"As well as providing a relaxing space to socialise and enjoy light activity, which is fantastic for fitness and emotional health, the solar power supply will offer modern convenience and let people use electrical tools without the environmental impact."

Cllr Malcolm Bray, who is a member of Twyford Parish Council as well as the Twyford and Ruscombe Horticultural Association and the Twyford Allotment Tenants’ Association, said: “The communal plot will be well used as a place to gather, rest from the day’s work and talk about allotment matters. 

“This allotment has a good community spirit and is already being used by Twyford Growers, Twyford’s horticultural therapy group and for an annual summer barbecue.”

Cllr Martin Alder, chairman of Twyford Parish Council, added: “The solar panels, plugs and compost toilet are a welcome addition.  As part of our climate change plan, we encourage people to take up allotments and welcome North Wokingham residents to join our enthusiastic community of gardeners.”

Funding new facilities through development

The council must plan for new homes to satisfy local demand and Government policy, though it is lobbying for reforms to the national planning system which it believes would result in less challenging requirements in future.

Cllr Lindsay Ferris, executive member for planning and local plan, added: "We have to calculate our current requirement in line with the Government’s formula, though we're still campaigning for a fairer, more consistent approach.

"However, there’s a need for some new housing and we're pleased to have secured this valuable amenity through developer contributions, which is critical as we continue to face unprecedented pressures on our own finances."

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