Reclaiming the commons in Todmorden
In Todmorden, West Yorkshire, use of vacant plots by the community has transformed the town, where the local economy is recovering from the collapse of the textile industry, leading to a multitude of positive outcomes for the local area.
On a plot of land by a semi-derelict 1930s health centre owned by the Primary Care Trust (PCT) residents dug up the old rose bed to plant produce. The PCT responded positively. Since then, parcels of land around the town have been pressed into use. Land ownership is cross-sector: strips of land next to the canal have been used to promote ‘vegetable tourism' through free pick your own fruit and herbs, new allotments have been created in the gardens of a retirement home to provide fresh food for the residents, and an aquaponics growing system is being built behind the secondary school.
Better outcomes identified by residents are wide-ranging and touch people's lives in a variety of ways, from promoting healthy eating, reducing lawn mowing and environmental services costs, to integration with community payback schemes. These outcomes have been achieved by assuming as a default position that vacant and derelict land was a waste of local resources.