A community near Sunderland are resisting eviction from allotments, following the expiry of their lease on New Year's Day. It is the latest phase of a battle by allotment holders to preserve the Back Ryhope Street allotments, and the only listed pigeon cree in the UK.
The threat of redeveloping the allotments was first raised in 1998. Retired miner Maurice Surtees was successful in gaining Grade II Listed Building status to protect the pigeon cree that he and his brother, William, had built there in 1955. It is the first, and currently the only, listed pigeon cree. This unique historic building was opened to the public as part of the Tyne and Wear Heritage Open Days in September 2007.
The lease on the allotments expired on New Year's Day, and the landowner, WorkTalent Ltd had previously offered the allotment holders money to move off the site so it could be redeveloped. The local community, however, regards the allotments as an essential part of their community's heritage and are supporting the fight to protect them from development. People from all over the country contacted them to offer help in resisting eviction from the land.
The Sunderland Echo reported on 31st December that negotiations with the landowner to keep the allotments and pigeon crees had begun.