Protecting UK Allotments
Research Fellow, Information School
University of Sheffield
Turning Vacant Acres into Community Resources
The New School, New York, NY, April 22-23, 2014
What is an allotment?
Small piece of land rented from the council for the cultivation of fruit and
vegetables for home consumption. Sign a tenancy agreement every year.
Since the Allotments Act of 1908 a standard allotment is ‘10
rods’. Rods are also called poles or perches. 10 rod = 250 sqm
I’ve had an allotment for 13 years
On our site’s committee for 10 years. Waiting list & new tenants
Voluntary. Dealing with the council’s allotment officer
Founding member of Open Data Manchester – data driven
Individual plots (must be fully cultivated, time commitment)
Community plot (education, different commitment, access)
Statutory allotments are parcels of land acquired or
appropriated by the local authority specifically for use as
allotments. These sites cannot be sold or used for other
purposes without the consent of the Secretary of State for
Transport, Local Government and the Regions.
Temporary allotments are on land which is allocated for other
uses but leased or rented by an allotments’ authority.
Temporary allotments are not protected from disposal in the
same way that statutory allotments are.
Allotments Act of 1908: Clause 23 ensures that councils provide
allotments. It takes six citizens for council to consider. Responsibility of
local government. If sites are sold money can only be spent on allotments.
Standard ways in which allotments and growing your own are
discussed in the mainstream media in the UK:
Dig for Victory (WWII)
The Good Life (1970s sitcom)
Huge waiting lists: big demand, tiny supply
In 1940s: 1.4 million allotment plots in the UK.
Now: 200,000. Cycles of popularity. What do
you do when everyone wants one again?
National Society for Allotments and
Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) – legal support
Perennial problem: good allotment data. Difficult to get an
overview of what is going on at local/national level.
Evidenced based policy making on allotments difficult,
but it’s also difficult to protect these spaces without data!