Shake-up for allotment laws

diggers350 tony at
Tue May 27 15:18:10 BST 2003

Sounds like some good news for a change!

Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK

Shake-up for allotment laws

The government has ordered a national audit to monitor the use of allotment=
s to prepare for a shake-up of laws governing their use.

For many people in Britain's towns and cities, allotments represent a haven=
 amid the hustle and bustle of urban life. 

If the rules are relaxed, they could be used as profit-making farms or hand=
ed over to community groups or schools. 

The audit, ordered by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, was triggered by=
 concerns too many are being sold off to developers. 

  Bristol is one of the UK's top allotment cities with 5,000
  Some waiting lists are up to six years
  In World War II, there were nearly two million allotments nationwide
  Today's figure is about 300,000
  Average rent is £25 a year
  The number of allotments is only a sixth of what it was 60 years ago. 

The current laws date back to 1908 and they dictate that people who rent al=
lotments from a local authority or a private landlord must use the land to g=
row fruit and vegetables for the family. 

So tenants cannot grow food for commercial sale. 

But as interest in locally-grown food has increased, campaigners have wante=
d the laws changed to allow allotment-holders to sell surplus food to market=

Other legal reforms could allow the green spaces to be used for relaxation,=
 so deckchairs and barbecues could replace the shovel as the allotment acces=

'Plans are crackers'

And greater access may be encouraged for schoolchildren and community group=
s as a means to educate about wildlife and food. 

There could also be greater legal protection to prevent their continuing de=
cline in numbers. 

But the new rules are not likely to find favour among some allotment tradit=

One man, who has owned an allotment in Bristol for 40 years, told BBC News:=
 "If they do that, they're crackers. 

"It's just for growing something and eat it - nice fresh vegetables." 

The profile of allotment-holders - once traditionally a male preserve - has=
 changed over the years. 

It is estimated that women now make up about 20% of tenants, with some moth=
ers keen to grow organic vegetables for their children. 

Interest in allotments was increased by television shows such as The Good L=
ife in the 1970s, then later EastEnders, plus the present popularity of gard=
ening programmes.

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list