Headlines: September 15th, 2009

The Government and local councils are being urged to expand dramatically the number of public allotments by building on brownfield sites and encouraging landowners to give unused plots to local communities. The New Local Government Network wants local authorities and the Government to make better use of brownfield land to create new allotments.

It is also calling on the Government to offer tax incentives for landowners so allotments can be developed on unused sections of their property. The NLGN is also suggesting that if a voluntary system does not work, the Government should consider a Large Private Estates Commission with the power to transfer unused plots of private land to the local community temporarily for agricultural use.

In a report it says the number of allotments in the UK has declined from 1.4million in the 1940s to 200,000. Recently their popularity has increased as more people want to grow their own produce. The Queen recently dedicated some of the Buckingham Palace Garden to an allotment to grow produce for the palace kitchen and Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister’s wife, has begun to grow vegetables in the Downing Street garden.

The report urges councils to encourage “edible landscaping” including the creation of roof gardens and allowing residents to sell produce at local markets and through cooperatives. It also wants to see the expansion of schemes such as the ‘Landshare’ website, allowing property owners to offer land for people to grow their own food.