An existing allotment in County Cavan.

Growing space for public allotments

The COVID-19pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions have highlighted the value of local growing space, as well as inter-personal contact at a safe and social distance.

The attempt to capture the zeitgeist came when local elected members gathered virtually to discuss their own motions for inclusion in the draft Cavan County Development Plan 2022-2028.

More than 60 motions were discussed and combed over in detail at the May monthly meeting. Several concerned specific reference to incorporate the need for communal growing spaces in towns and villages across the county.

If pursued over the next six years, it could see Cavan follow the path taken by many towns and villages in the UK where local councils support shared endeavours to grow fruit and vegetables, while recognising the additional benefits of physical exercise and mental health.

Independent Councillor Brendan Fay was among those who asked that 'allotments and community gardens' be included in the text, which supports increased use of existing public open space, parks and recreational areas, both passive and active, by integrating existing facilities with proposals for new development and upgrading where possible.

The motion was seconded by Fianna Fáil's John Paul Feeley, and supported by the council's executive.

Senior Planner Nicholas O'Kane commented that the inclusion of the wording “adds” to the stated objective, which aspires towards more sustainable community investment.

It was the first of two motions tabled by Cllr Fay, who sought to include in the CDP that 'residual land' in developments be used for the provision of so-called 'green infrastructure', including community food programmes and allotments, as well as areas that support pollination.

Again the motion was supported by Cllr Feeley and the executive, with Mr Kane noting it as a “very worthy motion”.

The need to facilitate open space, additional parks and amenities in towns and villages across the county meanwhile was summed up in a motion tabled by Cllr Feeley, and in turn, seconded by Cllr Fay.

Cllr Feeley's motion, for inclusion in the 'New Development Objective Section' goes further to suggest that the council work to establish a County Open Space Strategy going forward.

In Cavan Town specifically, Cllr Feeley was joined by party colleague Patricia Walsh in amending a section of the CDP so that it will now 'support the development' of a public open space, amenity and recreational area building at Killymooney Lough due to its 'high point' over Cavan Town and 'natural importance' to the local area. The text retained an element that will work to identify a 'potential link' from the existing greenway to connect with Killymooney Lough.

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