December 4, 2013
Three years ago, a local group turned a patch of derelict land in Govanhill into a community growing space. Although owned by a private developer, the council lent a hand to clear the site – it was an eyesore and attracting anti-social behaviour. Vegetables and flowers were planted and gradually Agnew Lane Community Garden became a source of local pride and pleasure. The group knew they didn’t have the land for keeps and kept asking the developer to give them a little notice of when they would have to leave. That notice arrived in the form of a bulldozer.
Agnew Lane Community Garden, set up on a piece of wasteground in Govanhill, was three years in the making – and razed in a matter of minutes (Click here for photos). Now workers are looking for a new home for their allotment garden.
Lucy Gillie, of South Seeds, organisers of the garden, said: “It’s just devastating. I still can’t believe it. This area was a real target for crime and anti-social behaviour but it has improved so much since we started our community garden.
“For three years we have had local volunteers working to improve the site, grow plants and grow produce and now it’s all gone.”
South Seeds staff were aware that the land was owned by a private developer. But it had become overgrown with weeds and was being used as a site for anti-social behaviour and, the environment group claims, drug use.
They decided to take control of the site and turn it into something for the benefit of the community.
With help from Glasgow City Council – which did not provide funding for the scheme – volunteers cleared the ground. And then they planted flowers, fruit and vegetables to make the space a bright place for local people to visit.
As they were aware the ground could be reclaimed at any time, workers were careful to make sure everything could be moved at short notice.
Produce was grown in raised beds and planters.
Lucy added: “We have never had any correspondance from Hunter Homes but we have kept them up to date with what we’ve been doing – we left messages, sent them recorded delivery letters and emailed them.
“They never wrote back either way and so we continued to improve the site.
“We were always very careful to make sure that nothing was permanent and could be moved if needed.”
But, after three years working on the plot, staff were shocked to see bulldozers move into the site.
Neighbours ran down to try and stop the workmen – but the damage had already been done.
Some workmen moved the planters to one side, allowing them to be saved, but much of the greenery has been destroyed.
Lucy said: “Agnew Lane Community Garden was one of our first projects when we were a pretty new organisation and it’s something we’re really proud of.
“We had made every effort to contact Hunter Homes and we had expected that when the time came to develop the site they would at least let us know.
“Of course they are within their rights – it’s their land – but we could have saved a lot of our work and moved it elsewhere.
“South Seeds had actually been in talks with another landowner to start using the space there so we could have taken the planters there.”
A planning application for eight mews homes and a car park was lodged for the site on August 26 this year and is currently under consideration.
The Evening Times was unable to reach Hunter Homes LLP for comment.
However, we have seen Land Register documents confirming they are the owners of the plot.
Lucy added: “We’re just in shock. We plan to start again and so we’re asking that people look out for any vacant land that we might be able to use.
“This hasn’t put us off, although it is very sad.”