Sir – We have been very disturbed to hear reports concerning the proposed sale of allotment sites in Didcot to housing developers.

As we understand it, the idea would be to buy another, less valuable, site and move the existing allotment holders to the new site.

The impetus for the proposal seems to be about only one thing – money. The members of the town council may think that monetary value is all we should consider, but that brings us neatly to the idea of “worth”. Not everything is about short-term monetary gain and the provision of accessible, well-used allotment sites in the centre of town is a good example of why “worth” does not always mean money.

If the council sells the sites, then there will be a one-time monetary gain. You can’t sell the sites more than once and when these greenfield sites are built over, that’s it; you can’t turn them into greenfield sites again.

Then there’s the monetary cost to the council. How much time and effort will it cost the council to provide suitable new sites, with suitable, uncontaminated soil, that are easily accessible to the residents of Didcot?

How much will it cost to actually move allotment holders to their new sites. Don’t forget, there will be plants (fruit bushes, asparagus beds and all the rest), equipment, sheds, manure piles, compost bins (full) and all the other paraphernalia essential to the average allotment holder. Has this been factored into the council’s costings?

Next comes the environmental cost. We currently have greenfield sites in the centre of town, which provide opportunities for all the residents of the town for fresh air, exercise and improving our diet, but there’s more to it than that.

These greenfield sites enhance our environment by reducing pollution created in the town and soaking up rainfall and hence reducing run-off and flooding.

We’ve all seen the recent impact of winter storms in other parts of the UK and the Thames Valley isn’t immune. How has the council costed the environmental burden of building on these sites?

What about accessibility? If the town centre sites are sold, where will the new sites be? Will they be within walking distance of residents’ homes? If we want an allotment but don’t have a car, is that just tough?

So, what if we don’t build on the allotment sites? Well, we will still have the allotment sites.

They will continue to provide all the amenities they currently provide and no-one will have to move to a new plot with all the upheaval and heartache that will entail.

The existing allotment sites will continue to mitigate against the effects of flooding and air pollution and residents will continue to be able to walk to their plots and not have to cause yet more pollution by getting in their cars in order to tend and grow a few vegetables.

Joy and Richard Hughes
The Frith