Residents in Gerrards Cross have hit out at a ‘shock’ eviction from a local allotment site after it was earmarked for development into a new sporting space.

The Gerrards Cross Community Association, a charity created in 1947 to serve the local area, submitted plans to turn little-used tennis courts and an allotment space at the village’s Memorial Centre into two new padel courts on Thursday, May 23.

Peter Sutcliffe, chair of the association’s estates committee, said the proposal would enable the creation of “a fabulous new resource in the heart of Gerrards Cross” – but not all locals feel the same way.

Patricia Cross, 72, who has been an allotment holder at the Memorial Centre site for a little over 12 months after finally making it off a four-year waiting list, described the plans to scrap the community area in favour of a new sporting space as “heartbreaking”.

She is one of seven residents regularly tending to their allotment patches at the site on East Common and described it as a “lovely, peaceful area” that had been a form of escape and solitude for villagers without gardens of their own for over 15 years.

Although the community association has yet to receive approval from Buckinghamshire Council for its redevelopment plans, Patricia and her fellow allotment holders were told on May 14 that their use of the land would be terminated in December to facilitate “repurposing” of the site.

It came “as a shock” to the 72-year-old and the other holders, who vary in age from their early 40s to mid-80s.

The allotments at the Gerrards Cross Memorial Centre (Image: Patricia Cross)

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Lizzie, who is in her 40s, was “completely deflated” when she heard the news, according to Patricia, meanwhile Cash, of the same age range, “came in guns blazing and full of enthusiasm” when he was given an allotment earlier this year but “hasn’t even come down to water his plants” since the eviction was announced.

Mr Sutcliffe told the Free Press that the proposal was primarily intended to “open up the Memorial Centre space to a new audience”, acknowledging the cost of “a few allotment holders losing their plots”.

Since the plans were submitted last month, several residents have also written letters of support and objection to Bucks Council’s planning portal, with some concerned that the padel courts, which produce significantly more noise than their tennis counterparts, would be “intrusive” to those living nearby.

Evan Leary, who lives on East Common, suggested that the plans would fulfil the association’s expectations of boosting visitors to Gerrards Cross and be a “valued asset to the community”.

However, Veronique Lambelet, whose home is “immediately” next to the proposed site, criticised the potentially “high level of noise” and raised concern over the plans’ impact on allotment holders, praising the space’s current use for “improving health, biodiversity, social interaction and community cohesion”.

She added: “I doubt we would want to deprive the community of a place for sharing and conserving the environment. It would be a great shame to lose that to concrete and unnecessary noise.”