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Buxton’s Serpentine Community Farm bids to become an asset of community value

Ruth George has pledged her supprt to help save the Serpentine Community Farm
Ruth George has pledged her supprt to help save the Serpentine Community Farm

Volunteers at Buxton’s Serpentine Community Farm have lodged an application to have the site classed as an asset of community value.

High Peak Borough Council revealed last year that it was potentially looking to reclaim the site for redevelopment as it was facing ‘significant financial challenges’ and was looking at the possible sale of some council assets.

As a result, the authority said it anticipated applying for planning permission on the farm site in the future.

To try and counter this the volunteers have lodged an application with the council to have the farm, on the site of a former plant nursery at Serpentine Walks, classed as an asset of community value (ACV).

Madeline Hall, project director at the Serpentine Community Farm, said: “If we were able to secure the farm as an ACV it would be a cause for celebration and comfort and it would then give us six months to try and come up with the funds to buy the land if or when it went up for sale.”

The Serpentine Community Farm was formed in 2014, after a group of residents had been meeting and researching for several years to find ways to increase food growing in the town.

Since then it has gone from strength to strength, holding annual apple days and bringing the community together with various projects throughout the year.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on the council to keep the farm open.

However, council officers are recommending the ACV application is rejected when it goes before a meeting of the authority next week.

Madeline said: “The council are in a difficult position and have an unenviable decision ahead of them, but this recommendation is a disappointment, not a disaster. A setback but not the end.”

The original agreement between the farm and the council does not include the buildings which have now fallen into disrepair, and Madeleine said it would be a frustration if the ACV was not approved on a technicality.

She added: “There is a strong friendship network there where people with similar ideas are actively united by an interest in food sustainability, organic and therapeutic gardening. There is still such a feel good feeling at the farm.”

A council report in response to the application states: “It is considered not to be realistic to think that the owner will dispose of the site in lots based on the current internal site boundary lines. It is, therefore, considered unrealistic to think that the land will continue to be used in a way which furthers the social interests or social well-being of the community. Council’s officers have assessed the criteria and recommend that it should not be listed as an Asset of Community Value.”