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Contracts fuel Caister allotment fears

PUBLISHED: 10:28 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:52 30 June 2010

FEARS that supermarket giant Tesco's plans for a new store could usurp long-standing allotments in Caister have been fuelled by new contracts apparently allowing the parish council to sell them at short notice.

FEARS that supermarket giant Tesco's plans for a new store could usurp long-standing allotments in Caister have been fuelled by new contracts apparently allowing the parish council to sell them at short notice.

The parish council has issued contracts to all six allotment holders in Yarmouth Road giving it the power to allow the land to be developed for another use.

Under the contracts - the first to be issued in the allotments' 100 year history - tenants would be given three months notice to vacate their plots and offered help with relocation and compensation.

But the contracts - aimed at reassuring allotment holders their plots were not going to be absorbed by Tesco as part of its plans to build a larger store - have had the opposite effect.

Tenant Jean Cunningham, who has had a plot for 12 years, said the first she heard about it was when the contract dropped on her doormat, adding: “There has never been any need for contracts because nobody has had any interest in the site.”

She said if she was forced to leave her £10 a year 10 rod plot she would probably give up growing her own produce including potatoes, strawberries, rhubarb and gooseberries.

Fellow gardener Guy Gibson who also has a plot on the site which backs onto his Yarmouth Road home said he was concerned about the contracts and the future of the allotments.

However, parish councillor Tony Baker, who drew up the contract, said the clause had to be incorporated under the Allotments Act 1925, and could only be invoked if the borough council applied to the government for permission for a compulsory purchase order on the site or if government itself needed the land for development, such as to build a power station.

He went on to reassure allotment holders their plots were safe.

If the Tesco plans are given the go ahead, the existing store will be demolished and the car park extended. A new £1m state of the art village hall, boasting a council office and 200 seater main hall, has also been offered as part of the project.

Developer Tamsland is set to submit a planning application for the new store in the summer.

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