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Don't lose the allotment plot

13 August 2008

Allotmenteers beware - is someone eyeing up your little patch of heaven on earth? Terry Walton takes a look at the law of the land

Allotment plot
Allotments are a central part of our everyday lives and precious to us who use them

So, you've fought your way to a plot and the chance to settle into this idyllic way of life. The sods are being turned and the crops happily sown. Whether you have just come to the end of a long wait for a plot, or have fought to have new allotments installed in your area, you have reached Utopia.

But don't relax. Whether your allotments are new, or have been in existence for many years, there are many predators out there swimming with the sharks and eyeing your little piece of land.

Some of these developers see us 'little folk' as somewhat eccentric, digging and planting our little acres of ground, fighting the vagaries of nature and all the pests just to get these vegetables to our kitchen tables and enjoy the fruits of our labours. Why don't we do it the easy way and buy it in plastic bags from the supermarkets like they do? These very supermarkets who may also be eyeing up our land to develop yet another store and import these fruits and vegetables from a global source.

Related: how to choose the right allotment.

Allotment laws

Let us look at the status of the land where allotments are normally situated.

First there is the statutory land. This is the land procured by the appropriate authority for allotment purposes. This is the best place to be as this land can only be disposed of with the consent of the Secretary of State. To further protect the tenants using this land the Secretary must be satisfied that adequate provision is made for displaced plot holders. In addition this alternative provision must normally be provided within three quarters of a mile of the plot holders' homes.

For statutory allotments to be disposed of, the application must be made to the Secretary of State under section 8 of the 1925 allotment act. Several criteria also have to be taken into account and these are:-

  • The allotments are not necessary and surplus to requirements.
  • Adequate provision is made for displaced plot holders.
  • The number of people on the waiting list is taken into account.

The local authority has actively promoted and publicised the availability of the allotments. So you see if you are a plot holder on statutory allotments you have a high degree of safety for continued occupation. Still no need for complacency, make sure the plots are kept filled and in good, clean order. Do not let people rent the plot and not cultivate it. Actively promote the benefits of the allotment to the local community. And work closely in conjunction with them.

Related: how to get an allotment.

Temporary allotments

Next there are the temporary allotments. Temporary in this case has no bearing on the length of time they have been in existence but only in the wording of the lease. If you are on one of these sites there are no restrictions on the disposal of the land.

There are, however, no legal requirement for such sites to be replaced automatically but the local authority has a legal duty to provide sufficient number of allotments where there is a demand. If there are already sufficient plots available in the local area to the the displaced plot holders' needs, then there is no obligation to make additional provision.

Finally, we have privately-owned allotment sites. This type of site again has no protection under the allotment acts. These private landlords can be anybody including rail companies, etc. If you have a site of this nature you are well warned to have a lease time built into the agreement.

So there you have it. Allotments are central part of our everyday lives and precious to us who use them. They provide exercise and food - and don't forget the social aspect.

So respect this piece of land, keep it in good order and listen out for any tales or rumours about it. Treat these seriously and always be aware of the adage 'no smoke without fire'.

If there is a threat, treat that seriously too. Make sure you fight a clean fight, and always remember above all: 'never lose the plot!'

Related: how to grow fruit and vegetables.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.