Local residents lead by example today when they planted potatoes in the grounds of Victoria House in Whitecross. Activists hope this act of ‘guerrilla gardening’ will publicise their campaign to secure the future of the area for use by the wider community.
Victoria House and the surrounding land is currently owned by Herefordshire Council. At present developers McCarthy and Stone are in negotiations to buy the site and build some retirement flats. Their plans hang in the balance as permission to demolish the house has yet to be granted. Parents and teachers from the adjoining Lord Scudmaore School are also angered by the prospect of flats over looking their grounds and signed a petition in protest at the plans.
The campaign, lead by the charity St Nicholas Community Association, puts a far greater value on the site. Jane Gutteridge from the Community Association told the Heckler that due to a lack of community space in Whitecross they’d like to take over and run Victoria House on behalf of the community. “70% of people who responded to the councils City Plan consultation said they’d like to see the house retained for community use, we’ve got nothing in Whitecoss apart from a couple of run down church halls.”
If the campaign is successful they have some exciting plans for the site. “Groups like Herefordshire Growing Point and Growing Local is Going Local are keen to get involved and create a food education centre and community garden”, Jane told us, “Transition Hereford would also like to work with us to make the house environmentally sustainable.”
With the lack of facilities in Whitecross the campaign plans to host other much needed services including health advice clinics, pre-school groups, credit union, exercise classes and a cafe and cookery school.
So it appears that the council have a decision to make, either sell off Victoria House and make a fast buck, or actually do what they are supposed to do and think about providing for the people of Hereford.