Digging for victory at Moorcroft

Release Date: 16-Mar-2011
A piece of derelict land in Dewsbury Moor is about to be transformed into a community allotment, wildlife area and orchard.
Cllr Shabir Pandor, with representatives from the local community, KNH, Marks & Spencer and Groundwork

Cllr Shabir Pandor, with representatives from the local community, KNH, Marks & Spencer and Groundwork

Representatives from the local Wroe Street and Schoolcroft tenants and residents associations first approached KNH about the 4000 square metre site in 2009.

Now, after extensive consultation, ecological surveys, planning applications and funding agreements, work is about to begin. And to mark the occasion, local residents, Cllr Shabir Pandor (Cabinet member for housing), and representatives from KNH, Groundwork and Marks and Spencer, took part in a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday (16 March).

The allotment project has been made possible by a £25,000 grant from Marks and Spencer and £5,000 from KNH’s locality working budget. The project is being supported by Groundwork Wakefield, who specialise in working with community groups on environmental projects like this one.

The project is also being supported by KNH as part of its ‘grow-your-own’ programme, which helps communities reclaim derelict sites or areas suffering from flytipping and convert them into usable spaces like allotments, orchards and wildlife areas.

As well as local residents, children from Westmoor Junior School and Dewsbury Moor children’s centre will also be involved with the allotment, studying plant germination in science lessons and getting their hands dirty in a plot of their own. When the fruit and vegetables are ripe, the children will then take part in ‘cook and eat’ sessions. It’s also envisaged that members of the community will help with the children’s plot and help them look after it during school holidays.

Carol Smith, a project manager from KNH who helped develop the scheme, explained: “A big part of KNH’s mission is to help develop successful communities. This project helps achieve that goal by encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to work together and learn new skills. It’s also a great way to encourage people, especially children, to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Kathleen Andrews from Schoolcroft TRA said, “This is a great opportunity for everyone in the community to come together to work on a project that will benefit everyone. Everyone’s really excited about the new allotment and looking forward to seeing what we can grow.”

According to Cllr Shabir Pandor, the Cabinet member responsible for housing, “the grow-your-own scheme is one way Kirklees Nieighbourhood Housing can support us to improve Kirklees residents’ health and wellbeing, which is a major concern for the council. It will also provide the local school and its pupils the opportunity to find out about how vegetables are produced and hopefully the children will develop mew skills.

"I look forward to seeing how the project develops and after talking to local residents I am very optimistic that this will be a big success. I believe this project has massive scope to do things that reach out to everyone.”

A landscape architect from Groundwork Wakefield is drawing up plans and work should start with clearing the land within the next month. Some of the allotment land will be sectioned off for individual as well as community plots, and already, 22 people have expressed an interest in having a plot or being involved in the project in some way.

Progress will be monitored by a steering group, made up of community representatives, and residents along with Groundwork Wakefield and KNH officers. The community will receive regular updates about the project and have an opportunity to have their say in how the project develops.