Survey reveals allotment trend

Number of local authorities planning to provide more allotments still falling, according to poll.

Allotment plots: worrying trend - image: HW
Allotment plots: worrying trend - image: HW

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.

The number of respondents whose council plans to increase allotment numbers has shrunk to 41 per cent, down from 49 per cent in 2013 and 64 per cent in 2012.

This shows a "worrying trend", said the report authors, especially as the number of people on waiting lists remains high. While 32 per cent have a waiting list of 100-400 people (down by 43 per cent in 2013), 8.5 per cent have more than 1,000 (up from 4 per cent in 2013).

Green-space budget cuts are likely to be behind the trend, says the report. While operational budgets are up more than £900 annually on average since 2013, development budgets have been falling since 2008 and are down by £2,800 since 2013.

The fall in staffing budgets of £3,900 is "to be expected given local authority budget reductions and the move to create more self-management of allotment sites".

While fewer councils overall plan to create more allotments, a higher proportion are demanding developers provide them when they build housing. Of those that do have plans to create more plots, 57 per cent will make builders or developers provide them - 10 per cent more than the last survey in 2013.

The authors welcomed this trend, saying it demonstrates that "councils are increasingly discerning about what contributions they can secure for local communities on new developments".

More council-provided plots are on the cards, with 87 per cent of respondents saying the council will supply more allotments directly (up from 65 per cent in 2013).

Size - Smaller sites to create more plots

Charlie Dimmock's suggestion that allotments could be divided to increase plot numbers has upset traditionalists. But APSE's survey suggests nearly nine out of 10 local authorities (87.5 per cent) have considered reducing sizes to create more plots.

Plots could also get more expensive - 41 per cent of respondents said they plan to increase the price of a plot within two years, a further seven per cent within five years and 27 per cent are reviewing pricing plans.

These numbers have decreased since 2012 but this is likely because many councils have already implemented planned price rises.

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