A ‘RAT-infested and overgrown’ stretch of land in East Dorset has been transformed into new allotments for residents.

The Longham Allotment Gard-ens were unveiled last Saturday by Ferndown’s mayor, Councillor Pauline Reynolds, and Richard Dean, chair of the Ferndown Allotment Association.

Each of the 71 new plots is now being cultivated, while new pathways and increased site security are also in place.

A dozen gardeners who previously held an allotment at the site were told they would lose their plots in December 2012 as they were not officially residents of the town.

Cllr Reynolds said: “It was an absolutely brilliant day and we all really enjoyed it.

“The sun was shining and everyone was delighted to be a part of the day.”

The councillor said allotment holders are making most of the early spring weather to grow vegetables.

“There are families there now making the most of the site,” she said.

“It’s looking very, very tidy indeed, and there’s such a lovely atmosphere. It is very different to how it was before.

“The allotments have always been there, but many of them weren’t being cultivated very often and some had become quite overgrown.”

As he officially opened the new site, Mr Dean said much had changed in the last 12 months.

“Less than a year ago, this very spot was a rat-infested, overgrown horticultural eyesore,” he said.

He added that the transformation had started after Ferndown Town Council purchased the site to provide more allotment gardens for residents of the town.