VILLAGERS have launched a fight to save their allotments, which have been put up for sale.

The allotments, in King’s Somborne, are ‘open to offers’ to the Diocese of Winchester, which says the sale is necessary to boost its funds. Now campaigners and Romsey MP Caroline Nokes have expressed their concern over the potential sale.

The site, in Furzedown Road, has been listed as an asset of community value (ACV) for the past five years, and that listing ends on Sunday. That means that should it be sold prior to that date, it must remain as an allotment site.

However, the Diocese have said they are open to offers from any time now up until July 18 from potential buyers.

Forty-two-year-old Lisa Johnson has had an allotment on the site for the past four years, and said she believes the diocese is trying to get around the rules.

She said: “They have a small window and they are trying to use it. I don’t think they realise just how important these allotments are to the community. I have two young children who love it, and there are some residents here who had had allotments for the past 40 years!

“It’s such a worry. We know development is needed, but this doesn’t seem quite right. As a community group, we weren’t even told officially that it was up for sale.”

Under regulations, an ACV must be offered to the community group who registered it should the owner want to sell. Then the group has six months to raise funds.

A spokesperson for the Diocese said: “The Diocese of Winchester is intending to sell the allotments in King’s Somborne. As a charity, we are under a legal duty to make the best possible use of our assets in order to raise money to be able to continue to support the work of the Church of England. The site is open to offers and the deadline is July 18, 2018.

“The vendors are not obliged to accept the highest, or indeed any offer.”

They added that any buyer would have to provide suitable allotment space at an alternative site, but there was no definition on how big that would have to be.

MP Caroline Nokes said: “I am very concerned about the plans to sell the allotments. I support local residents and councillors wholeheartedly in trying to save the King’s Somborne allotments in the interest of the community. To that end I have written to the Bishop of Winchester this week to ensure the Diocese is aware of the significant concern.”