Campaigners who are fighting to turn an allotment site into a heritage and visitor centre say the council is “acting inappropriately” by ignoring public interest in making it a community asset.

Former mayor, Trevor Snaith, and the Ryemead Forum, have had their application to turn Bassetsbury Lane Allotments into a community asset rejected by Wycombe District Council, who say the site could be turned into housing.

Mr Snaith said the site – which was found to be contaminated and “unfit” for use as allotments – should be given to the community so it can be turned into a heritage centre by community groups.

He said: “They should have accepted it on to the community register because there is a public interest. There are hundreds of signatures from people who want the land to become a community asset – including the Environment Centre.

“They are acting inappropriately. They are the land owners and they have a vested interest in not giving the land over as a community asset. They will make considerable money from selling or leasing the land. It is wrong for them to do this.

“We want to put a heritage and a visitor centre there, which could be somewhere schools could use. Bassetsbury is a historic part of Wycombe and it would give it a voice.

“They should put it on the register and give the community a chance to acquire the land. They are acting as judge and jury on this.”

However, the council says the allotments could be used to meet “chronic” housing need instead.

Wycombe District Council spokesman, Sue Robinson, said: “The land was contaminated and therefore unfit to use as allotments. It was released from this use with the consent of the Secretary of State and it was then subsequently reallocated for housing. There is proven local housing need and the Council has a duty to maximise its assets.

“Meeting our local chronic housing need is all about improving social wellbeing. No alternative plans or expressions of interest have been put forward by any community group for use of the site.  

“The Bassetsbury site requires extensive remediation works and the provision of incoming services. It is unusable without major investment.

“Our plans include providing new accommodation for community interest company Chiltern Rangers on the adjacent Funges Meadow, which will enhance community use of and access to that land.

“We will be undertaking public consultation shortly, before submitting a planning application for the site.

“The council regularly pursues planning applications on council-owned land in accordance with its policy priorities – which in this case is to provide much needed housing. The council’s planners operate independently throughout this process and follow national guidelines in their practice and procedures to determine any planning application, regardless of who submits that application.”