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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 11:18 GMT
Parliament hears pigeon loft row
Listed pigeon loft
The wooden pigeon loft was built in 1955 by Maurice Surtees
The fight to save allotments housing a Grade II-listed pigeon loft is to be heard in Parliament.

The single-storey cree, at Back Ryhope Street, near Sunderland, was awarded listed status in 1998.

But the allotment holders, some of whom have used the site for 60 years, are faced with eviction when their lease expires on New Year's Eve.

Houghton and Washington East Fraser Kemp MP has said he will raise the issue in the House of Commons.

Only the secretary of state can de-list the loft and the land doesn't even have planning permission
Fraser Kemp MP

Land owners Worktalent, who were unavailable for comment, want to redevelop the allotments.

Tenants include the cree's owner Maurice Surtees, who built it with his brother William in 1955.

Fellow allotment holder Lewis Llewellyn said: "Some of our members have been on there for over 60 years.

"Why should their livelihood be taken away by someone who just wants to make a profit?

"If the bailiffs come, they'll have to go over the top of us - we'll not give up lightly."

The 22 allotment holders have been offered compensation to vacate the area, but have declined the offer.

'No sense'

MP Fraser Kemp, who claims Worktalent wants to have the building de-listed, was behind the successful campaign to protect the loft from development when he lobbied English Heritage in 1998.

He said: "Only the Secretary of State can de-list the loft and the land doesn't even have planning permission. It just doesn't make any sense.

"For ten years there have been campaigns to save this area, which does an awful lot of good in the community, including teaching children the benefits of growing their own food."

The loft, which houses up to 80 birds, is protected as an important piece of working class heritage.

Pigeon pensioners in a flap
15 Jan 98 |  UK News

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