Commons Debate on Allotment Provision

I received this email this morning, thank you Ms Campbell, and thought it of interest to everyone.

There is to be a debate in the Commons on allotment provision on Tues 22nd July.

People may wish to write to their local MPs to ask for support in resolving the waiting list problems.
There is a great service to assist you in contacting elected representatives here

Here follows my letter to my MP if this can be of any use (This provides a good template for you to write your own letter):

Dear Mr Hesford

I am writing to ask for your support in a debate on allotment provision which is to take place in the House of Commons on Tuesday the 22nd July.

Current legislation and guidance on allotment provision is summed up by Iain Wright, MP on behalf of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

Section 23 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 places a duty on local authorities (except for inner London boroughs) to provide allotments where they perceive a demand for them in their area. Furthermore, ‘Planning Policy Guidance Note 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation, 2002’ requires local authorities to make provision for all types of open space and requires them to undertake robust assessments of local needs and audits of existing open space, to establish standards for new provision. By implementing the guidance in PPG 17, local authorities should make adequate provision for allotments.” (Hansard 6 May 2008 : Column 737W)

However, despite legislation and guidance, it seems that Local Authorities have difficulty with the provision of allotments. In Wirral there are 1600 allotments and about 400 people on waiting lists. In my local area anyone going on the waiting list is now told to expect a wait of 10 or even 20 years. Insert information regarding your own area

This seems to reflect a national trend. A recent article from The Guardian (22nd March 2008) reports that “Demand outstrips supply most in Yorkshire, where six towns have a combined waiting list of more than 3,500 people. Sheffield has 1,400 on its list. Elsewhere, Manchester has 850 people on the waiting list for allotments, Edinburgh has 1,150, Plymouth 1,000 and Blyth Valley, in Northumberland, has more than 1,200. In Swindon, there is now a five-year waiting list.”

In 1998 the Conclusion of the Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Fifth Report talks of the anticipated future increase in demand for allotments. It mentions that the performance of local authorities with regard to allotment provision is “best described as patchy”. It is “disappointed to be told by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State that allotments are essentially a local issue. We believe that the provision of allotments is a national issue.” It calls for a consolidation of the legislation and a participatory role for central Government. (

Allotments combine physical activity with social interaction, learning and skills, recycling and the production of cheap and healthy food. They contribute to the local informal economy and to the principles of environmental sustainability and biodiversity.

It appears that in the UK now, thousands of people are queuing to eat more healthily, take more exercise and live more sustainably. Surely this is a national issue? Is it not time for the Government to participate?

Posted in Rants and Raves
25 comments on “Commons Debate on Allotment Provision
  1. william foster says:

    I hope it will also bring attention to the chemical destruction of this years crops due to AMINOPYRALID brought to us by DOW CHEMICALS what is the agriculture minister doing about that, A lot of new gardeners are going to be put off by the first years crops which are going to fail because of contaminated manure W V FOSTER

  2. Sharon Thomson says:

    I couldn’t agree more, and can I just say a fantastically well written letter. I too shall be sending a letter. Thanks for that.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Gill Guest says:

    Thanks for the template I too have written to my MP.

  4. dick handscombe says:

    Best of luck with your UK efforts and then onto the EU.
    As said in a recent article allotments are almost unknown in Spain and many Mayors main interest is to enable each village families to sell their small holdings for housing and industrial estates.

  5. Julian de Mortimer-Griffin says:

    i have always had a growing place and had good results,
    This year i took on an allotment that had not been used for a year or so .
    what a huge dissapointment as 2 8ft rows of carrots had 4 tops and no bottoms to date;very small beetroot .onions the same size as when they went in ,brocoli none appeared
    leaf beet that should grow like a weed 6ins high and sparse ,marrows 16 put in 2 came up all these sown in april

  6. susan hole says:

    There is a 4 yr unofficial waiting list for an allottment near me, although the official wait is said to be up to 2yrs. I have had my name on the list for a year and have given up and started turning my own garden over to vegetable production by putting in raised beds, growing in tubs and planning mini glasshouse culture next year. Fine for me – but what about all those folk on the list that have no space of their own to grow in!

  7. BenF says:

    The situation is worse in London.

    I live in Waltham Forest, all the sites close by me have waiting lists, I was told not to bother putting my name down as I would probably be dead by the time one came available. Its impossible for me to grow anything other than a few herbs since I’m on the fifth floor of a high rise block.

    Copy of letter emailed to local MP with a couple of my own thoughts added for good measure.

  8. Mike Moulding says:

    I have been a member of the allotment movement for many years and have volunteered for many associations, including Preston and more recently City of salford.

    There is a terrible under-provision of allotments and whilst our national organisation does tremendous work in saving threatened sites, not enough emphasis is given to persuading local council’s of the benefits of developing new sites for local people.

    We as a national organisation do not do enough collectively to persuade people in power ie local & national government that the provision of allotments is a vital service for local people and is a part of our national heritage which is being slowly eroded as each year passes because of the demand for other land uses which support profit over providing land cheaply so people can live healthily by growing their own food and supporting the environment.

    The NSALG have played a tremendous role historically in supporting the allotment movement but the organisation is only as good as its members and a more co-ordinated campaign is required to force local and national governments to take our concerns more seriously and provide more allotments for those that cannot get one.

    In Salford we are making progress in this area after years of decline but much more has to be done and with a membership of nearly 100,000 people as well as having support from other horticultural organisations, a co-ordinated campaign will bear fruit and make inroads in persuading local and national governments that as voters, council tax & tax payers with concerns for healthier living and the environment more allotment will be provided.

    Start by forming a group, affiliating to NSALG, form a federation and then persuade your regional representaive that us allotment holders want a more radical approach to improving what is a dire situation nationwide.

    Well done and keep going.


    Mike Moulding

  9. Jane Jones says:

    I live in a flat in inner London and my local authority have closed their allotment waiting list. The worse thing is that I was on the waiting list but failed to renew in time due to severe health problems, which they knew about yet they would not accept my late renewal. Now it looks as if I will never have a chance to get an allotment and really sticks in my craw that the ‘5 person’ rule does not apply to London. It is so unfair.

    A friend recently told me about her friend who lives in Bucks where they operate a 1/4 allotment policy and that sounds like an excellent idea. A person still has more than enough space to grow a harvest but more people also have the chance of owning a plot. I wish this would be adopted in more sites (my LA have only allowed a bare minimum of 1/2 plots…).

  10. Terri Westerman says:

    I knew there was a shortage of allotments in my area (Doncaster S.yorks)as all the ‘established’ allotments are full and have a rumoured long waiting list, however,after devoting most of my back garden to chickens, ducks,fruit and veg, i contacted the council just before christmas 2007 to ask to be considered for an allotment in my area, lo and behold, in january 2008, i went to an ‘unknown’ allotment site and was offered a plot. To be honnest, it is made up of aprox 50 plots, but is seriously overgrown with self set trees, 6′ tall weeds and is mostly bog-land, no surprise no one else has an allotment there!

    However, the plot i took was on the higher side of the land, and i have dug trenches to assist drainage, since i took on my plot (i was the only tennant!) 3 more tennants have arrived, one of which is an elderly gentleman, (who informs me had a plot in the far corner 50 years ago), all our plots are going well!

    anyway, to cut a long story short, my plot number 5 is doing very well and i have just taken on the adjacent plot number 9! So as far as the apparent waiting list in my area goes………yes, there probably is a massive waiting list for established plots where little work is needed to start growning your own, but if like me, you are willing to take on 250 square metres of unadulerated wasteland/marsh then plots are available, aprox 45 left to be honnest!

  11. Vivienne says:

    My London borough has no allotments at all. Is there a way to make them provide some?

  12. Dawn Caines says:

    I have just collated the waiting list for the 4 plots in our area Bournemouth and we have a combined list of 242 people !! waiting for plots.
    as 6 is the limit before new plots are legally required to be made available i think we more than qualify !

  13. emma fairbairn says:

    I have just contacted South Woodham Ferrers Town Council (Essex) regarding renting an allotment – only to be informed that the waiting list is above 40 people at the moment and at a rate of approx 3 available per year I wont get a chance to rent an allotment until the year 2021 (at the very earliest) which is pretty bad! REALLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH! I have no garden and no space for my daughter and myself to enjoy growing and eating homegrown food, I understood an allotment was every tax payers right…..PUT THE OVERGROWN WASTELANDS TO GOOD VALUABLE USE!

  14. Keith says:

    What is the actual situation with regrad to provision?

    We have no allotments at all in our village. Do the council have to provide if there are 6 interested people? or just investigate the possibility?

  15. Amz says:

    A friend mentioned something she heard on the radio about people leasing their gardens for people to us as allotments – does anyone know anything about this? or is it better to keep the allotment spirit by all being on one site?

    I have quite a large garden i would be willing for someone to use as an allotment providing they keep it tidy. i live in widnes, cheshire (WA8)

    please let me know your thoughts.


  16. D Carter says:

    After making enquiries to our Parish council, it seems that there are no alotments in our village in West Sussex. Myself and a few interested neighbours have written, after gaining information from this site and quoting the requirement of the Allotment Act, and the Parish Council have replied to say that they are actively looking into the possibility of transferring ownership or leasing land in the area for allotment use. A letter to the locally produced magazine was sent to inform people that had enquired in the past, of the councils responsibilty to provide allotments when there are at least 6 people interested. Generally, people are not aware of this and just accept the answer that there are none available.These people have also now written to the Parish Council to make their request and this has added weight to the issue.
    We intend to attend the Council Meeting next week to address them on this matter so will let you know how we get on.

  17. Jill Sellner says:

    Does the allotment act in terms of the council’s requirement to provide land not apply in inner London? Sort of ironic. Any recommendations of how to proceed in London?

  18. Steve says:

    I’ve had a thought – probably been doen before.

    Why not 50/60/70 people put in say £2/300 each then purchase enough land to have allotments for them. The £2/300 is then rent for ten years after which, you pay rent of £??? what ever each year. When initial purchasers die, the land passes or is already in ownership of the Association.

    This would free up the useless Local Authorities who say they have no money (yet have lost millions they saved with Ice banks etc)

    LAs could continue to provide allotments for people who did not want to be in on the scheme.

    Thoughts please!

  19. adrian pieroni says:

    as usual, told there are no plots available in warrington area, yet i see on a daily basis many vacant/neglected plots!! what can i do?

  20. Zahid says:


    Our borough in London (RBKC) says there is no provision for any allotments. We have about 5 people interested in renting one if it became available, is it worth pertitioning or are we just wasting our time?

    Other allotment lists are closed (often 3-5 year waiting list) in neighbouring boroughs like Fulham & Hammersmith.


    Zahid & Susan

  21. Miss S Murray says:

    I have recently taken on an allotment in Carterton Oxfordshire and worked tirelessly to get it organised for this coming season. I am very concerned that our local town council in Carterton are considering selling off this land in the near future for housing. I have already written to the West Oxfordshire District Council who say they do not intend to sell allotment land that is currently well used, which this site is. However, there seems to be an element at work in this town that is able to by-pass the majority public opinion an “get their own way”. There is talk of moving the allotments to another site at the edge of the town but the ground there is barren and full of slate. This area would take years to clear and provide soil to any vegetable growing quality. Alot of people on the current Carterton site have been gardening here for 30 years. We do not want to move and will continue to fight our cause!

  22. Ron Sutton says:

    Having spoken to my local copuncil, there is a 2 year waiting list. It seems that they only time the plots are reviewed is annually just before rent time. when Plots have not been culitvated, the tennnant is contacted. If no longer requiring the plot it is offered elsewhere. In other words the only chance of being offered a plot is at the time of the annual review. After allocations this year, I moved up 4 places on the list. By the way I am a resident of Widnes, controlled by Halton Council.

  23. Amz says:

    Hi Ron

    my boyfriend and i are condsidering letting our garden to use as an allotment – email me at if you would like to have a chat about it.



  24. Togalosh says:

    Around Xmas(2008) a mate of mine in Manchester (I’m in Brum)said that she’d just got herslf a plot(without waiting long for it). From the pic she sent me it was a mass of green, thorny tough stuff and nothing else!!..and what is above is matched by what’s below the soil.

    I’d heard of the ridiculously long waiting lists to get an allotment and with an old incling to grow my own now revived I decided to “get in early”. I’d still got loads of DIY to complete and so didn’t want a plot for ages.

    I’m now 3 months in and loving it (without having deafed out the DIY either!). The reason why I think we both got to top of the waiting list is that we both said we’d take anything that was offered. My plot was in such a state the council wanted to get a clearance team in before they’d let me on but because I’ve no patience & the fact that spring had sprung I said I’d do it & so got in even quicker.

    There are many people that have already waited years for a plot on our patch but only because they want something without weeds..ready to plant(or something similar). If they could be more willing to take on a challenge then they’d have at least the choice of 3 full sized plots to choose from. I realise that some folk simply cannot do the really heavy digging but there is more than one way to skin a cat – one plot nearby has a communal sharing of the work (& harvest I assume)..ok it’s not everyone’s thing (or mine) but it works for them.

    Saying that, they could do with speeding up the process of kicking people off who are not pulling their weight.

    Good luck.

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