Lack of allotment plots a concern, survey shows

The number of local authorities planning to provide more allotments continues to fall, a survey from the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has shown.

The State of the Allotments Market survey went out to local authorities and green space managers in July, asking about allotment size, shape, cost, allocation, management and future plans. Some 64 councils responded.

APSE’s 2016 state of the market survey of local authority allotment services has shown only 34 per cent plan to increase number allotments. In 2015, the number of respondents whose council plans to increase allotment numbers shrunk to 41 per cent, down from 49 per cent in 2013 and 64 per cent in 2012.

Some 25.9 per cent had increased fees beyond inflation during the past two years, ranging from 2-50 per cent rises. Some 19 per cent charge over £70, with 22.8 per cent planning to charge over £70 in 2016/17.

Of councils, 38.4 per cent have 100-400 on the waiting list, up from 32 per cent in 2015 and down from 43 per cent in 2013.

Some 5.8 per cent have over 1,000 on the waiting list, down from 8.5 per cent in 2015 and up from four per cent in 2013.

Average budget is £32,000 for operations, 16,000 for staff, 12,000 for development and £10,000 for ‘other’. Main responsibilities are roads, fences and water. Only 32 per cent break even and just two per cent make a surplus.

Some 55 per cent have some maintenance by grounds maintenance contractors and 70 per cent have some maintenance by plot holders.

Of councils, 55 per cent have a strategy in place and of the rest 30 per cent plan one within two years.

Report author Wayne Priestley said: "The increasing desire for building land and the lack of plots for new allotment holders is causing concern amongst allotment holders, as is the reduction in council budgets which is having an impact on the ability to maintain such sites."

He suggested self-management and partnerships with the NHS to develop and maintain allotments.

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