Why are you getting rid of the Cottonmill allotments?

We are not getting rid of Cottomill Allotments, it will however be smaller
The site is already prone to flooding. After abstraction is reduced in 2024, the rise in groundwater levels will make much of the site wetter more often and parts of it unsuitable for allotments. It is important that we prepare and plan for these changes in the environment so to safeguard the further of the site.


Back to the top

When will I have to move?

We will not insist that anyone moves for at least two growing seasons. This means the earliest anyone will be expected to move to their new plot is Autumn 2020.

Back to the top

Is this legal?

St Albans City and District Council have a legal obligation to provide a certain number of allotments and must give at least 12 months’ notice from the September of each year if they want to evict tenants. 
The reality is that in the coming years much of the site will be wetter more often and parts will be unsuitable for allotments. This means that doing nothing is not really an option.
We understand that for many allotment tenants our proposed plans will be very unwelcome. We are committed to listening to the needs and opinions of our allotment tenants and replacing all displaced allotment tenants with a suitable local alternative site. 
We want to make any changes as easy and painless as we possibly can so we are very keen to hear your thoughts.

Back to the top

Will I get a new allotment?

We are working very hard to replace as many plots as possible on the Cottonmill Allotment site, in the areas least likely to be affected by ground water emergence. At the same time, this will bring
significant benefits to the river and a positive use of land for the areas that will be wetter more often.
There is still a lot of work to be done to develop these plans. The new allotment site on Sopwell Mill Open Space will be prepared well in advance, enabling tenants wishing to relocate to do so as soon as it is ready. The details will be developed during the detailed design stage in consultation with allotment tenants during 2020.
Because there will be a completely new plot layout at the existing Cottonmill Allotment site, we need to find a fair way of re-allocating plots. We are at the very early stages of developing the new Cottonmill Allotment site. No decisions have been made as yet.


Back to the top

Will you force me to move?

We understand that this may be very unwanted news. We want to make any change as smooth as possible.
It is anticipated that it will be at least the end of the 2021 growing season before any significant work can be started on the Cottonmill Allotment site. When work starts, the site will need to be temporarily closed for approximately four months during the winter period. We expect that tenants will be able to return to new plots on the site before the growing season starts the following year.

Back to the top

Why is Affinity Water reducing abstraction on the River Ver?

Hertfordshire (like most of SE England) is classified as suffering from serious water stress. This is due to high water use and a large population. This puts significant stress on local rivers and groundwater where drinking water is sourced.
Environment Agency investigations have found that more water is abstracted from the river Ver than is environmentally sustainable. We have therefore agreed with Affinity Water that the level of abstraction should be reduced to benefit the river. These changes are made in a carefully planned manner to ensure that the impact on customer bills is minimised.
Reducing abstraction will increase the value of the river for people and wildlife, in particular we can expect to see more of the iconic chalk stream species like brown trout and kingfishers. A river with more sustainable abstraction will be more resilient to the impacts of dry weather and is more able to support recreational activities like walking and fishing for more of the year.

Back to the top

Why does Cottonmill Allotments flood and why will it get worse?

Naturally, the River Ver went right through the middle of the allotment site. It has been historically realigned, probably to feed a mill. This means that the allotment site is at the valley bottom and suffers from both groundwater and fluvial (river) flooding.  We are aware of some flooding occurring in 2014, 2012/11, 2010, 2008, 2001, 1995 and 1994.  
Because the river is perched higher, it is disconnected from its floodplain. This means that when flood water tops the banks, it cannot get back into the river and the allotment site acts like a basin. 
In the coming years Affinity Water plans to reduce abstraction from groundwater to protect and restore the River Ver and improve flows in the river. We expect groundwater to reemerge in the site and for it to be wetter more often. This will make parts of the site unsuitable for allotments.

Back to the top

How will it be decided who stays and who goes from the existing site?

This is yet to be decided. We want to make the process as fair as possible, please let us know how you think this should be handled.

Back to the top

How will the remaining allotments be accessed?

This is yet to be decided and will be looked at after we develop detailed designs for the site.

Back to the top

What parking / facilities will there be at the new site?

Full details will be confirmed closer to the time. We expect the new site will have the same access and facilities as Cottonmill and will be located nearby. 
We will not insist anyone moves for two full growing seasons (Sept 2020 at the earliest) to give tenants time to prepare, although there may be the opportunity to move beforehand if you would prefer.
We want to listen to what allotment tenants want from their new site. You can have your say by completing the survey.

Back to the top

Where is the new allotment site?

We are currently investigating a number of options including using Sopwell Mill Open Spaces.

Back to the top

Where will the standpipes / watering places be for those remaining onsite?

This is yet to be confirmed but would expect the same level of facilities

Back to the top

Will I be able to keep my Cottonmill allotment?

To make the best and most efficient use of the available land we will need to recreate new allotments.  When work starts, the site will need to be temporarily closed for approximately four months during the winter period. We expect that tenants will be able to return to new plots on the site before the growing season starts the following year. 

Back to the top

Will there be fencing between the public area and the allotment?

Yes, fencing or a natural barrier. We want the site to be at least as secure as it is presently.  

Back to the top
Date of last review: 08 November 2018