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Allotment Petition Result – Reply from the Government

I amongst others signed an online petition to the Prime Minister about provision of allotments. The exact words were: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to provide more land for allotments for people to grow their own vegetables. Proposed by Naomi Phillips it attracted just 1,173 signatures. Come on people – we could do much better. There’s 1700 people signed up to the forums on this site alone.

The exact details of the petition were –

“This will do the following:

  1. Allow people to save money.
  2. Provide an area for abundant wildlife.
  3. Help to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  4. Help to cut the amount of carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere: people grow their own food instead of buying it all thus reducing ‘air miles’ (and shipping and lorry pollution).
  5. Provide people with a community group to belong to and enjoy.
  6. Provide people with a space to exercise while doing something worthwhile – it will benefit them in two different ways at the same time.

There simply aren’t enough allotments around. I belong to one, half of which has just been taken over by the golf course next door, halving the allotments while only increasing the golf course by about 3%. I believe there is a waiting list of people desperate to obtain a plot, but there simply isn’t enough land.”

Legal Position Regarding Allotments from the Government

The reply from HMG is, as I suppose you would expect, formal and avoids saying anything new but it  does provide useful information for people regarding their legal position if an allotment is threatened or they just cannot get one from their local council. It would have been great if we’d had some statement about an intention to increase the land available  for allotments.

The government’s reply is below with my comments in bold italics.

The Government fully recognises the value of allotments and a whole range of green spaces in improving people’s well being and the quality of neighbourhoods. Our green space policies and programmes are leading to real improvements in the quality of green spaces. A key part of our policy in recent years has been to strengthen the protections for allotments.

That sounds good,  even if more than a little vague as to detail

Statutory allotments are protected via Section 8 of the Allotments Act 1925 which requires that local authorities seek the Secretary of State’s consent for disposal or appropriation to another use. Consent cannot be given unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that certain criteria are met. In 2001 we made it a requirement for local authorities to demonstrate that they had promoted and publicised allotments in their area before consent for disposal would be granted was also introduced. Clarified criteria for disposal were also issued to local authorities and Government Offices in February 2001. Now local authorities are required to demonstrate before consent is granted that:

  • the allotment in question is not necessary;
  • adequate alternative provision will be made for displaced plot holders;
  • the waiting list has been taken into account;
  • and that they have actively publicised the availability of sites.

Well that certainly is an improvement as long as the secretary of state does his job properly

In addition, Planning Policy Guidance 17 (PPG17) requires that local authorities make provision for all types of open space that may be of public value. It also requires local authorities to undertake robust assessments of local needs for, and audits of, existing open space, sports and recreational facilities and to establish standards for new provision. It is expected that by implementing the guidance in PPG17, local authorities should make adequate provision for allotments.

Expectations often differ from reality, I’m afraid

Furthermore, if an allotment authority is of the opinion that there is a demand for allotments in its area, it is required under Section 23 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908, to provide a sufficient number of allotments and to let them to persons residing in its area who want them.

Written representations may be made to the local authority on the need for allotments by any 6 residents on the electoral register or persons liable to pay council tax, and the local authority must take those representations into account (section 23(2) of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908). The Council must assess whether there is a demand for allotments in their area. If the council decides that there is a demand for allotments; they have a statutory duty to provide a sufficient number of plots. In terms of the duty to provide under section 23 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 there is no time limit for provision once it has been established that there is a demand.

So why are there such long waiting lists in some areas? I suppose having a duty doesn’t mean having to do something quickly.

Posted in Rants and Raves
3 comments on “Allotment Petition Result – Reply from the Government
  1. Jim Kendrick says:

    I am one of those working an allotment on the outskirts of Snarestone, Derbyshire. The land used is private land, but has been used as allotments since the 1920’s. Sadly, the land owner has just died and, leaving no dependents, has left the land to charities. They in turn have passed the land into the hands of an estate agent to sell at auction.
    We have been give a termination of tenancy notice for September 2009, and are now in a situation of having to try and raise the money to buy the land or risk being turned off the land after all these years. Sadly, i feel we may well loose the allotments forever-how very sad!

  2. John says:

    That’s really sad, Jim. I don’t think people realise how upsetting it is to put years of effort into improving the land on your plot only to have it ripped away.

    I assume you’ve checked your legal position? Hope you manage to raise the money to buy the site.

  3. yvette says:

    There is funding that may be available for the allotment, but of course you plotholders should get together and form a group to fight for what you got, has anyone tried to do anything about the situation.

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