‘I waited a year to get an allotment, but now I’ve come a cropper,’ says Stevenage pensioner

Alan Davey & Ian Craig by the allotment

Alan Davey & Ian Craig by the allotment - Credit: Archant

After waiting more than a year for an allotment a Stevenage pensioner was looking forward to spending the summer pruning his plants and growing vegetables.

Some of the rubbish from the allotment soil

Some of the rubbish from the allotment soil - Credit: Archant

But when Ian Craig finally took over the prized plot in Edmonds Drive in Stevenage, this month, more than a year later than originally planned, he found to his horror that he had been handed a barren plot full of builders’ rubbish.

“It’ll be impossible to grow anything until at least next year,” said the 64-year-old pensioner.

“The builders haven’t put any topsoil on the plots. They’ve just dumped all sorts of rubbish on there and underneath all the soil is clay.

“I’m not an expert gardener but I know that plants find it hard to grow in infertile ground.

“My wife and I were looking forward to spending the summer gardening but that’s gone out the window now.”

The allotments were created by developer Hill Residential as part of an agreement with Stevenage Borough Council to build the Aston Vale housing development in the town.

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When he found out about the plots Ian was one of the first to put his name down, but as he monitored their progress he could tell there were going to be problems.

“I could see when they were making the plots the builders were cutting corners,” he said.

“They were built as part of the agreement with the council and it seems they weren’t really interested in doing a proper job.

“I find it incredibly frustrating because I contacted the council on numerous occasions about the allotments but it all seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

“Now I’m faced with the prospect of spending an entire summer clearing the plot to make it suitable to grow anything next year.

“I didn’t expect to get a perfect plot and I’m not adverse to hard work – but I did expect an allotment that at least had a sprinkling of topsoil.”

A spokesman for the council said: “We’ll be providing some further soil improver for the plots. Whilst we’re aware that two plot holders are dissatisfied with the quality of the soil, we have spoken to others who are already busy preparing their new plots.”