Local Authorities must take into consideration when fulfilling their duties under the Allotments Acts 1908-1950, to provide allotments where they are of the opinion their is demand for them in its area.
‘Take into consideration’ is very different to actively starting a new allotment site. This is why we promote the model of communities doing it for themselves, organising to form a search group and taking responsibility locally to make new sites happen.
However there are positive examples of council-led efforts in Somerset. See some case studies here.
Taunton Deane Borough Council have also led the way by writing an allotment strategy, to confront the waiting lists they have in their area. You can read a copy here.
Local councils and public landowners can however be progressively more helpful than they are at present, through making land available to local community groups. This may be as simple as a corner of a local playing field, to larger considerations and consultation about community assets.
There are now more legal tools which community groups can use to access land from local authorities:
• One is the Community Right to Challenge, in the Localism Act 2011. This new right allows voluntary and community groups to mount a challenge to run local authority services where they believe they can do so differently and better. This could include the management of an allotment site or other land. They will need to submit an expression of interest, which, if accepted, will trigger a procurement exercise for the service.
• Another new right is the new community right to reclaim tool, which uses the Public Request to Order Disposal (PROD) for underused and vacant land, where it is publicly owned. This new right can be exercised on most underused publicly owned land so if you have identified land which you think could be put to better use, you might want to investigate who owns the land, by visiting http://publicassets.communities.gov.uk
• Another legal tool to leverage access to land is the new neighbourhood planning provisions in the Localism Act 2011. With a neighbourhood plan, communities will be able to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood. In addition to this, the National Planning Policy Framework also enables local communities, through local and neighbourhood plans, to identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them. This may for example include allotments.
Further Information and Resources