HUNDREDS of residents have signed a petition to save their community allotments.

The Diocese of Winchester have said they are hoping to sell the allotments in King's Somborne, which had been listed as a community asset.

As previously reported, a community group and the parish council had been working together and received a boost when the allotments were relisted as an asset of community value for another five years earlier this month.

Now, a petition of almost 500 people has been put together as the parish council, which is the nominated body, tries to raise the funds to purchase the site, which is more than 100 years old.

The re-listing gave King's Somborne Parish Council six months to raise funds as they requested to be considered as a bidder for the site.

It means that during this timeframe, the allotments can't be sold to another party.

Maureen Flood, corporate portfolio holder at Test Valley Borough Council, said: "We confirm that King's Somborne allotments have been relisted as an asset of community value.

"King's Somborne Parish Council has requested that they be considered a potential bidder for the site.

"The parish council's request to bid for the site means that a standstill period of six months will now begin. The owner cannot sell the allotments to anyone other than the parish council in this period. This will run until 27 November and at the end of the full standstill period the owner can then sell the allotments to either the parish council or another successful bidder.

"There is no requirement that the owner should necessarily sell to a community interest group at the end of that period as there is only a right to bid, not a right to purchase."

The site is still being marketed by Carter Jonas on behalf of the Diocese.

Lisa Johnson, who is part of the King's Somborne community who use the allotment site, said the re-listing had bought them some time.

She said: "We now have a petition of nearly 500 and counting, signatures.

"People think that the allotments are now saved as they have been given community asset status again, this is far from the truth. It's just bought us some time."

The petition states: "This highly popular facility, used by many residents and supported by even more, is an important amenity that genuinely works towards the benefit of the community."