14 years after opening, locals call for Fingal to commit to Powerstown allotmentsGary Ibbotson 13 May 2022
Powerstown allotment users are calling on Fingal County Council to commit to permanently retaining the allotments in situ in the coming years.
Growers who maintain a plot at the allotments say that due to the recent development of sites surrounding the land, they fear the allotments may be sold off for the construction of homes.
Local councillors visited the facility in late April to show their support for the campaign.
The Allotments Association Committee, which consists of people who grow and maintain the allotments, are urging the council to commit to preserving the site as part of the Fingal Development Plan 2023 – 2029.
First established in 2008 after the Finglas allotments were closed for redevelopment, the Powerstown allotments is the only publicly owned allotment site in Dublin 15.
The amenity also houses a fruit orchard, a bee sanctuary, a commemorative 1916 garden, and a purposely designed communal polytunnel, or greenhouse.
Local wildlife such as buzzards, eagles, long eared owls, foxes, and pheasants are also found and sustained at the allotments.
Ritamary Bolton, a member of the committee says that there is a concern among the community that the council may look to take back the land on short notice.
“In Ireland allotments are always on temporary land,” she says.
“It states clearly in the lease agreement that the land must be handed back on short notice if it is needed for development.
“In the last few years, Powerstown has found it increasingly difficult to get information from Fingal, and they have virtually stopped maintaining the site.
“Committee members do all the grass mowing.
“The roads have become rutted, and the carpark has several piles of illegally dumped soil which Fingal were to remove but haven’t,” she says.
Bolton says that the council has not been responsive the group’s requests for clarification on the status of the allotments.
“During an (unsuccessful) meeting to ask for maintenance and security improvements, we were told that money would not be spent on a site that would not be allotments for very long.
“We made a formal inquiry, but got no reply,” she says.
“Having read the writing on the wall, we began to look for support to retain the allotments and the sites on both sides on a more permanent footing, as being of benefit to the local and wider community in terms of outdoor activity and outdoor education.”
Local Labour councillor Mary McCamley says that the users of the allotments feel that “things are closing in on them.
“The land that the allotments are on is worth a lot of money,” she says.
“Houses are being built nearby to the land, as is a church.”
“The council has never said that it is not keeping the allotments – but that is not written in stone,” she says.
McCamley says that allotment is a “fantastic place” and believes that the council “will think twice – maybe three times – before deciding to close it.”
As the license for the allotments has been renewed for another year, Bolton says that they hope “to build on our contacts in the community.
“The local schools, the church on Powerstown road, Mulhuddart Community Centre, and the Men’s Shed, as well as any other groups who might be interested in how this unique area could be integrated into the community in the best way,” she says.
Several councillors and TDs have voiced their support for the campaign, which includes McCamley, Independent councillor Tania Doyle, Fianna Fail councillors Howard Mahony and JK Onwumereh, Fine Gael councillor Siobhan Shovlin, and Sinn Fein councillor Angela Donnelly and TD Paul Donnelly.
“Two local councillors are going to submit a motion of support on our behalf and we are making a submission to the Local Development Plan process,” Bolton says.
Lands neighbouring the allotments are also a hotbed for local bird and wildlife, which the group says should also be protected from development.
McCamley says that a motion has been tabled as part of the upcoming development plan to rezone the allotments and adjoining lands to be protected from development.
“It’s very important to keep it,” she says. “It’s such an amazing facility.”
“The point we want to make is that the allotments, and those two ecosystems are a gift to the local community which should be retained to the benefit of all,” Bolton says.
“Dublin Community Gardens, and Community Gardens Ireland have pledged to make submissions on our behalf, and we hope to persuade the local schools to do likewise.
“We don’t know when we will hear about the future of the allotments, but we know that the location is proposed in the development plan for community infrastructure.”
“Allotments are unfortunately very scarce in Dublin 15, Powerstown is the only site, with just 179 allotments, already fully occupied, and with a long waiting list of years.
“We need to put these on a more permanent footing and identify sites for more allotments in the area.”