The three gardeners who are holding up Raleigh’s planned move to a former allotment site on the outskirts of Nottingham are being financially backed by a farmer who wants Raleigh to use his land for its new factory. The Raleigh MD says all allotment holders are being amply compensated and that Nottingham city council and the Environment Agency are to install toad crossings and relocate bats on the Bulwell site, so the farmer’s £10 000 legal fight will not win through

Wealthy landowner is secret backer of the Bulwell Three

The Nottingham Evening Post has unmasked the mystery benefactor who is funding the legal fees of the three allotment holders who are seeking a judicial review to reverse Nottingham city council’s planning permission for Raleigh’s Bulwell factory.

Notts farmer Malcolm Hodgkinson owns 30 acres of land in Ashfield, a few miles from the Bulwell site. This is currently designated as green belt land but Hodgkinson is hoping this designation will cease next year, enabling the land to be used for industrial use. In an attempt to force Nottingham city council to consider using his land instead of the allotment site (an option the Raleigh MD says won’t come in time for the move deadline imposed by the University of Nottingham, now owner of Raleigh’s Triumph Road site), he is stumping up the legal fees of the Bulwell Three: Trevor Rose, Ann Spiers and Herbert Hyman.

“I am funding the action,” Hodgkinson confirmed to the Post’s business editor, Richard Tresidder.

“It could cost £10 000. When they win, I will get my costs back.”

He’s clearly confident but he may not be a totally clear thinker. In a sentence containing two arguments that cannot be easily reconciled, he told the Post: “I am not bothered what happens to Raleigh but I am worried about their jobs.”

The three allotment holders are now out on a limb in their tussle with Nottingham city council. The rest of the allotment holders want to be relocated quickly for husbandry reasons and to get their hands on their new tool sheds, communal loos and cash compensation. The council is stumping up £1.6m to move the allotment holders, and their soil.

Gardener Alf Norton told the Post: “We want to be on the new site as soon as possible. We start our onions at Christmas.”

On 18th August, the secretary of the Blenheim New Site Allotment Holders Association wrote to Alan Swales, Nottingham city council’s development director, supporting the move and complaining about the enforced delay.

Raleigh MD Philip Darnton told that the allotment fracas was becoming daily more bizarre.

“I’m hoping everybody will soon see sense and a resolution will come quickly.”

The judicial review – held in two parts, with the ‘prima facie’ first part determining whether there are enough grounds for a full hearing – would hinge, in part, on whether Nottingham city council’s environmental impact survey for the factory was adequate. The Raleigh MD believes it was.

Some toads are likely to get toad crossings on two lanes and a colony of pipistrelle bats would be housed in purpose-built batboxes, close to their present location.

“All we need now is newts to be found on site,” said Darnton, only too plainly aware many industrial developments in the UK are stopped by the discovery of semiaquatic urodele amphibians.

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