LAND which houses the country's only listed pigeon cree could be worth £1m if it was removed, it was claimed today.
Pigeon fanciers are fighting to save the single-storey cree at Ryhope allotments – a plight which has made headlines across the world – but face eviction and bailiffs moving in after their lease expires on New Year's Day.
Houghton and Washington East MP Fraser Kemp, who championed their cause in Parliament, has now written to police and council chiefs to raise allotment holders' concerns for the safety of the site.
In the letter to Chief Superintendent Dave Pryer, he wrote 'The site contains the world's only Grade II-listed pigeon cree and as such is protected by legislation. Any damage or alteration to it can lead to a custodial sentence'.
Mr Kemp believes the land, which he claims was bought by Worktalent Ltd for about 12,500 more than 10 years ago, could be worth 1m if the cree was destroyed.
As well as raising fears of damage to the site, Mr Kemp has vowed to pursue animal welfare legislation if the allotment holders are denied access to the land to feed the pigeons they care for.
Worktalent Ltd declined to comment about the matter.
On Monday, the allotment holders, who rejected a deal to move to a new base at Tunstall Bank, are holding a Christmas vigil, as it may be the last festive season they spend at the Back Ryhope Street site – where they have been since 1953.
However, gentoo living is trying to broker a deal with Worktalent Ltd to save the Back Ryhope Street site.
The social enterprise arm of the former Sunderland Housing Group wants to keep the land as working allotments and pigeon crees.
Mr Kemp has urged Worktalent to accept the proposal.
"The choice is on the table if the company wishes to accept it," he said.