Headlines: March 28th, 2008

Local government leaders want all developers to be forced to make land available for allotments in all big urban schemes as a way to tackle mounting waiting lists and the shortage of plots in some parts of the country. The Local Government Association has estimated that 200,000 allotments have disappeared in the last thirty years.

It also points to the fact that in the last few years demand for allotments has grown, particularly among environmentally-aware young professionals who want to grow their own organic food. The upsurge in demand means some areas now have 10-year waiting lists.

The LGA wants local authorities to make the most of their powers to compel developers to include green areas in large building projects where there is a local problem of a shortage of allotments. In cases where allotments are lost because of development, the LGA is calling on the new owners of the land to work with councils so a comparable area of allotment land is made available.

In ‘Growing The Community, a new guide being issued to local authorities, the Association encourages the development of partnerships with allotment associations so they are consulted on planning applications that affect their plots and wants councils to ensure that information on waiting lists and vacancies is well managed.

The LGA is also highlighting examples of good practice. In Newcastle, for example, the council and Primary Care Trust have restored allotments and installed a greenhouse for people with mental health problems and Blackburn with Darwen Council’s ‘Grow Active’ project includes allotment sessions for drug and drink addicts, people over the age of 80 and special learning groups and school groups. Every GP practice in Mansfield has signed up to a referral scheme directing those who need exercise to a variety of activities, including a community allotment. In a number of London boroughs, The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture works with a number the council to allow victims to garden on allotments.