Farm charity closes after eviction from the Chatsworth House estate

By David Ainsworth, Third Sector Online, 26 March 2013

Game Lea Farm

Game Lea Farm

Gamelea Countryside Training Trust is told to leave the site in Derbyshire, owned by the Duke of Devonshire, after paying its rent one day late

A farm charity has been forced to shut down after its founder was evicted from land on the Chatsworth House estate, home of the Duke of Devonshire, after paying the rent one day late.

Gamelea Countryside Training Trust, which supported people with learning disabilities and provided training for disadvantaged young people, had been running since 1999 on Game Lea Farm, run by Elizabeth Hill, the charity’s founder, and her husband Edward.

The charity, which had a turnover of about £100,000 a year, has been shut down with the loss of four jobs, said Elizabeth Hill. She said the charity was one of the main activities on the farmland.

She told Third Sector that she and her husband had been told they would not be given a new lease on the land and were in the process of serving out 18 months of notice and finding new premises for the charity when her husband failed to make a rent payment on time.

Immediately, she says, the couple received a notice of eviction from the Chatsworth Estate.

"We were told we had to be out by this weekend," she said. "I believe they were just waiting for an excuse to evict us."

The Hills had been told they were not running their farm properly, she said.

Elizabeth Hill said the charity had tried to set up new premises elsewhere, but had been denied planning permission. This left it without time to find an alternative site and meant it must close, she said.

A spokesman for the estate said: "In all tenant relationships, Chatsworth works very hard to reach a solution that enables the tenant to remain at the property. An eviction notice is only served as a last resort when all avenues have been exhausted and a tenant cannot meet the terms of their tenancy agreement."

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