Waiting lists for allotments remain long

The National Allotment Society is using allotment waiting list study results to argue for a significant increase in provision of plots by local authorities.

Allotments: authorities polled
Allotments: authorities polled

Allotment waiting lists are now 78,827 long, with 52 people waiting per 100 plots, according to Transition Town West Kirby and the National Allotment Society, who surveyed 152,432 plots at all 323 English principal authorities.

In 2009, there were 49 people waiting per 100 plots. In 2011, there were 57. The main findings were:

- Some 215 (67 per cent) of the local authorities hold waiting list data.

- This data covers 3,558 allotment sites, averaging 17 sites per council.

- The sites contain 152,432 plots, averaging 43 plots per site.

- The waiting lists for these plots total 78,827 people, an average of 52 people for every 100 plots.

Report author Margaret Campbell said: "In view of the considerable uncertainties around the total figures, we feel that this is best summarised as allotment waiting lists remaining high.

"New allotment sites were brought into use by 51 councils in the past two years. The total number of new sites was 65. For the 58 sites where information was supplied, the total area of the new sites was 30ha, and the total number of plots on these new sites was 1,950."

She added: "In conclusion, waiting lists for allotments remain high. Even at a time of budgetary restraint, a strong argument can be made for a large increase in allotment provision because food grown on allotments means fewer food miles and could be an important part of the new greener low-carbon economy.

"Allotment sites often provide a focus for a community and improve community cohesion, growing one's own food is an important part of a healthy-eating programme, allotments offer a productive activity for the unemployed, local and national government reports have been promoting the benefits of allotments for some time and local authorities have a statutory duty to provide sufficient numbers of allotments."

National Allotments Week runs on 5-11 August. See www.nsalg.org.uk/ news-events-campaigns/national-allotments-week.

National Allotment Society Study findings

- Many councils have farmed out allotment plots to local management groups.

- Many councils have built new allotment plots to try and tackle waiting lists.

- Fewer councils are trying to sell off allotment plots in the face of local pressure.

- Eastern European immigrants are eager to get plots.

- Higher prices for allotment plots are cutting lists.

- Poor weather has hit demand.

- Slough Borough Council's waiting list was 465 per 932 plots in 2013, compared with 302 for 862 in 2011.

- Harrow Council rose from 495/1,458 in 2011 to 703/1,398 in 2013.

- Camden has 1,765 waiting for 194 plots compared with 945 waiting for 195 plots in 2011.

- Wirral has 742 waiting for 1,755 plots. In 2011, it had 564 waiting for 1,689.

- Sunderland has 2,568 waiting for 2,839 plots, up from 739 waiting for 2,775 plots in 2011.

- Merton Council has given management of many of its plots to local groups.

See www.transitiontownwestkirby.org.uk.

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