Headlines: March 13th, 2008

Britain’s largest and oldest surviving allotment is to be preserved and restored after the Heritage Lottery Fund confirmed more funding. St Ann’s Allotments date back to 1830 and now lie within one of the most deprived areas of Nottingham, although they were originally created as detached town gardens for more wealthy families.

Nottingham City Council says the gardens are now a rare green space in an area of high density inner city housing. Councillor David Trimble, the council’s portfolio holder for Community and Culture was delighted that a piece of living social history was being supported by the HLF. “We are very pleased to have been able to support this exciting project in partnership with the St Ann’s Allotment consortium and we look forward to seeing the plans come to fruition,” he said.

The announcement of extra funding brings the total the St. Ann’s Allotments have received from the fund to almost 2.5 million pounds. The council says the money will reverse decades of neglect and preserve the remaining historic features, including one of the few Grade II listed garden sheds, Victorian summerhouses and greenhouses. Vandalism has been a problem at the site and the plans include improved boundary fences as well as the renovation of drives and clearance work on overgrown pathways and unused areas of the site. Some of the money will also be used to research the social history of the allotments.

Of the 677 plots, 500 are still active and 15 community organisations and charities regularly use the site. The council hopes the improvement works will provide opportunities for local people to learn new skills to help them gain employment.