Allotment holders get new lease of life after council rule change

Allotments in London are highly sought-after. Photograph: Janie Easterman / Flickr

Islington Council is set to U-turn on a rule that puts a 10-year limit on holding an allotment.

The Allotment Policy is set to be changed this week after a consultation saw residents reject a policy introduced in 2011.

It means allotment holders will be able to renew their tenancies on an annual basis.

A report by environment chief Cllr Rowena Champion reveals that residents began speaking up to councillors as well as to local MP and well-known allotmenteer Jeremy Corbyn, following which a consultation was held which found that the majority of respondents did not support the new rule.

Champion said: “In addition to noting the strength of opinion on removal of the 10-year rule, we have listened to the feedback received from the allotment community on the impact that losing the allotments will have on them individually and on the wider allotment community. 

“As a result, the Parks Service recommend withdrawing the 10-year rule and converting all existing licences to lifetime licences. 

“The licences will still be subject to the annual renewal and the allotment holders will need to ensure that they can maintain the plots to the standards required in the licence or risk having the licence cancelled.”

According to Champion, the policy was brought in in 2010 because at the time over 270 people were on the waiting list with only 57 plots available, making the average wait around 14 years on a list which had been closed to new entries since 2006.

The council had hoped in 2011 that changing the rules would reduce the time spent waiting for a plot, as previously plot holders had been offered annual agreements every year unless they moved away, found themselves incapable of maintaining the plot or died, meaning that the average time plot holders kept their spots was over 20 years.

There are now 73 plots available as the council has started dividing larger plots as they come up.

The March 2020 consultation found, on a 30 per cent response rate of 57 people, that 28 per cent were in favour of the 10-year rule and 72 per cent did not support it, with 43 per cent of those on the waiting list also against the rule.

Champion added: “To ensure we can continue to provide more food growing opportunities within the borough the parks service will focus on developing a Community Gardening and Food Growing Strategy for the borough with the aim of increasing opportunities for the community to grow food in parks, housing estates and public realm land across the borough. 

“We will also continue to actively seek additional opportunities to create new allotments through re-sizing of existing allotment plots when tenancies are ended and through identifying new land that could be converted to allotment. Finding new land for allotments will be a challenge in Islington due to the lack of space and demand for new housing.”