Rapid development of land around Gillingham over the last decade or so has left the North Dorset town rather short of green space for other purposes. The problem stems from rapid high-density house building a few years ago. I decided to phone the Town Hall.
It turns out that there are so few recreational areas that many parts of the community are being affected. The town’s Youth Football Team has been forced to relocate some miles out of town in Kington Magna. After years of searching, the Scouts moved to up-the-road Milton-on-Stour. So much for keeping it local!
Regarding gardening, the situation is not great either. Those new homes offer little or no room for growing food, flowers or children. There are two allotment sites, one privately owned at Slaughtergate and another Council-run piece to the rear of Cemetery Road. Here there are 30 plots and 67 folk on the waiting list. Apparently the average time between registering and receiving is four years!
Cemetery space is tight too. With about a dozen burials annually, the forecast is that in ten years there’ll be no room for further burials and something will have to be done. So the Council has formed the Allotments and Burial Provision Working Party. Their plan is to identify suitable areas of land. These will be given over to allotments and then, at a later date, turned into graveyards.
It is important to remember that we are all just tenant farmers and nothing lasts forever. Change happens with or without our blessing. I think gardener’s know this more than most. And I really don’t want to knock the Council who are, it seems, trying to sort out a common problem of our times. The shame of it is for future plot-holders who will find themselves compromised when it comes to cultivating long-term crops like asparagus (with a possibly fifteen year productive life) and fruit trees which might still be prospering for generations.
But, as my source told me, hopefully it will be a painless and seamless transition from growing for the living to accommodating the dead. Trends towards cremations means less land needed so the hope is to gradually reclaim these as yet non-existent plots as and when they are given up naturally.
Copyright, Joe Hashman www.dirtynails.co.uk