Big plans for Wigan allotment will get more people growing their own

Keith Moss, secretary of Balcarres Allotment Society
Keith Moss, secretary of Balcarres Allotment Society

A Wigan allotment could soon be bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables as it looks set to be given a makeover.

Gardeners with plots off Balcarres Avenue in Whelley say it has become rundown and overgrown over the years.

Despite repeated calls for the area to be tidied up so more plots can be used, they say nothing has been done.

Now members of Balcarres Allotment Society have applied for an asset transfer so they can take responsibility of the site from Wigan Council.

The group has big plans to get more green-fingered enthusiasts using the allotment.

Keith Moss, secretary of the society, said: “We will get a better community here.”

They have already started to clear debris, giant knotweed and other overgrown plants from the site to make it suitable for growing.

It was during work to clear part of the site that members found what was suspected to be a grave.

The police were called and extensive excavations took place, but no evidence of human remains were discovered and a pathologist concluded it was not someone’s final resting place after all.

The society’s planned work has since resumed and wooden fence posts have been ordered to set out the plots.

Mr Moss said: “At present there are five working allotments. We hope there will be another 10. People will be able to grow everything, there will be no restriction other than no animals.”

The society hopes to create a new generation of gardeners as part of the development.

They want to erect a wooden building on the site for use as a classroom and dedicate one of the plots for community use, so children can learn how to grow their own.

Mr Moss said: “We are going to give them a plot so they can practise. They will have a theory lesson first and then go outside for a practical lesson.”

They plan to apply for a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Fund to cover the costs.

The society already has a former judge for the Royal Horticultural Society on board to help with lessons.

There has been a boom in the popularity of allotments in recent years.

It is hoped more Wiganers will be able to head to the allotment thanks to this project.

Penny McGinty, assistant director for corporate contracts and assets at the council, said: “We have received interest from local groups who would like to manage the Balcarres allotment site through a community asset transfer and the normal processes that lead to a decision are now in full swing.

“The social values the successful group will bring, management of the site and sustainability will be taken into consideration and as soon as a decision has been made, the relevant people will be notified.

“We are aware that Japanese knotweed is present in a couple of the plots, which has led to these areas becoming overgrown. We are unable to interfere with these areas until it has fully cleared away due to the risk of the knotweed spreading. All groups who have expressed an interest are aware of the knotweed.”

To find out more about the allotments, call Mr Moss on 07914 636312.