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London allotments: revolt over Duke of Northumberland’s plans to build new flats on site where Bridgerton was filmed

Jonathan Prynn
·2-min read
<p>The proposed designs for blocks of flats on the allotments</p> (Handout)

The proposed designs for blocks of flats on the allotments


A new “peasants’ revolt” has flared up between west London allotment holders and their multi-millionaire landlord the Duke of Northumberland.

They are furious about the aristocrat’s plans to redevelop a three-acre site on his Syon Park estate near the Thames that has been nurtured by local gardeners for more than a century.

A planning application from the duke’s estate company reveals how more than two thirds of the Isleworth Allotment Gardens would make way for seven blocks of flats with 80 properties in all.

Planning documents show the 38 allotment plots would be “rationalised” at the southern end of the site but greatly reduced in size.

Interiors scenes from Bridgerton were filmed on the estateLIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX
Interiors scenes from Bridgerton were filmed on the estateLIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

The family say they need the rent from the apartments to fund close to £20 million of essential repairs and restoration of the Grade I listed home where interior scenes from the Netflix hit Bridgerton were filmed.

The estate has also been hit by the near total loss of visitor and events income during the pandemic.

The latest scheme comes four years after Hounslow council threw out a previous plan from the 64-year-old peer to move the allotments to a “wholly unsuitable” new site in the grounds, designed by Capability Brown.

The Syon estate is managed by the duke’s son Earl Percy, 36, heir to the dynasty’s fortune — estimated by the Sunday Times Rich List to be worth £445 million — which also includes Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.

The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland with their eldest son George PercyGetty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland with their eldest son George PercyGetty Images

Allotment holders say they feel “steam-rollered” by the 12th duke, whose title was created in 1766 by George III.

Stephen Hurton, chairman of the Park Road Allotments Association, said: “The consultation process has been so frustrating and has left us with something very unsatisfactory. Instead of having full-sized plots we will have half-plots or quarter-plots.”

Another allotment holder, Annie Aloysius said: “Since the duke’s estate took back ownership of the land from the council in 2015, the rental of unused plots has not been permitted, while those plots in use have been given a drip-drip licence of only six months with the constant threat of eviction.”

Sue Casey from the Isleworth Society said: “We urge Hounslow council to reject the planning application as they did in 2017.”

Salman Shaheen, chair of Isleworth & Brentford Area Forum and councillor for Isleworth, said: “The space for allotments will be so much smaller at a time when there is huge amount of demand and a long waiting list in Hounslow and across London. “

Colin Barnes, director of Northumberland Estates, said: “Each of the allotment holders on existing plots will get a new site that allow them continuity and long-term future. Over half of the current allotment area is overgrown and covered in brambles and people want smaller plots these days. We will provide better facilities such as communal composting and car parking.”

The application is expected to be considered by the council in June.