Saturday, 27 March 2010

Guerilla Orcharding!

On the edge of the Newsome Ward (actually just over the edge in Greenhead Ward)is a piece of land off Wentworth Street near the centre of Huddersfield. It is a green patch of land with a small tarmac area. Ideal as a community space and as a community orchard. To try to make this a reality local people have presented a petition to the Council, spoken at Full Council meetings and asked me to negotiate with the Council on their behalf. We've all reached a brick wall. The bottom line is that the Council could make a packet by selling at as a building plot and a community orchard doesn't really cut it in the making cash for the council stakes.

What is in play here is two different approaches to value. Community value versus capital value. On the community value side all we have is bringing people together in a common project, a new low cost facility for the area, local grown healthy food in an urban environment and a valued improved green space near the centre of Huddersfield. On the capital value side they have money. Now let us not put down the value of money. After all it could be used to support community cohesion projects, local food projects, local community facilities. The irony is of course obvious. To make the irony of the situation even starker locals have decided to plant apple trees there anyway and develop the land as a community recreation and growing space at no cost to the council.

It is of course easier to take away land for building which never had a use or a purpose. Once that land has a positive community use it changes everything.

Over to you Kirklees.

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