Duke’s plans to ‘bulldoze’ allotments and build flats blocked by planning agency

The 12th Duke of Northumberland had applied to build 80 flats on his Grade-1 listed Syon Park estate in west London.

Pol Allingham
Tuesday 12 December 2023 19:32 GMT
The three-acre site in Isleworth has been used as allotments since the First World War (Yui Mok/PA)
The three-acre site in Isleworth has been used as allotments since the First World War (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

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A duke’s plans to “bulldoze” allotments to make way for flats has been blocked by the Planning Inspectorate after a battle lasting years.

Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland, applied to build 80 flats on his Grade-1 listed Syon Park estate, said to be a “green sanctuary for residents” and “wildlife haven” in Isleworth, west London.

An inquiry was launched into the plans after the duke said he wished the Syon estate to pay for itself with the new properties.

Northumberland Estates said it hoped the rent money would go towards upkeep for Syon House, the Percy family home on the estate.

The three-acre site has been used for allotments since the First World War and has been the set for period dramas including The Madness Of King George and Gosford Park.

John Longmuir, inspector at the Planning Inspectorate, threw out the duke’s appeal to build on the Park Road Allotments on Monday, saying: “I find that overall, the weight to the benefits of the proposal does not outweigh the harms to heritage assets and the loss of open space.”

A spokesperson for the group that challenged the Northumberland Estates planning application said it was a victory for campaigners, including Isleworth Labour councillors Salman Shaheen, Sue Sampson, and John Stroud-Turp, alongside Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth Ruth Cadbury.

The allotments have served as a green sanctuary for residents. Not least during the pandemic, when they proved a vital lifeline for people’s mental and physical health

Campaigners

They said Northumberland Estates had planned to build on nearly three-quarters of the allotments, and said: “The David versus Goliath battle to save Park Road Allotments in Isleworth from being bulldozed for flats by the Duke of Northumberland – one of Britain’s richest people – concluded in a stunning victory for campaigners fighting to save the treasured green space.

“The long-running saga ended with the Planning Inspectorate dismissing the Duke of Northumberland’s appeal against Hounslow Council’s decision to reject his plans.

“The allotments have served as a green sanctuary for residents. Not least during the pandemic, when they proved a vital lifeline for people’s mental and physical health.”

Northumberland Estates has twice attempted to develop the land, it said, with Hounslow Council first rejecting plans in 2018.

In October 2021, Hounslow Council’s planning committee turned down another proposal after it received nearly 1,000 objection letters.

Northumberland Estates appealed the council’s decision but it was rejected on Monday.

Sue Casey, chair of the Isleworth Society, said it was an important decision for the community and for local wildlife.

She said: “The inspector’s decision to turn down the appeal by Northumberland Estates is so significant for the Isleworth community.

“Important local open space (LOS) is secured; heritage is protected and wildlife preserved.

“The Isleworth Society is delighted with this outcome – of great benefit to present as well as to future generations.”

These allotments have brought such joy to plot holders. They have been a place of sanctuary and community where people, young and old, can come together to grow food and be amongst nature

Stephen Hurton, Park Road Allotment Association

Stephen Hurton, chair of Park Road Allotment Association, also welcomed the decision.

He said: “Park Road Allotment Association is delighted that the appeal has been rejected.

“It is a great cause for celebration that the allotment site will be retained as local open space for the wider benefit of all locals and wildlife.

“These allotments have brought such joy to plot holders.

“They have been a place of sanctuary and community where people, young and old, can come together to grow food and be amongst nature.

“We hope that we can work together with Northumberland Estates to maintain the site as allotments.”

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