The law of allotments
If the council believes that there is a demand for allotments, they have a statutory duty to provide a sufficient number of plots. Section 23 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908.
Section 23 – refers to an evidenced demand for allotments, which activates the mandatory obligation of provision and letting, on a local authority. The actual wording is:
“On a presentation in writing to the council of any parish, by any six registered parliamentary electors (persons who are liable to pay an amount in respect of council tax) or residents in the parish, that the circumstances of the parish are such that it is the duty of the council to take proceedings under this part of the Act therein, the council shall take such representations into consideration.”
This is duty to consider providing allotments and does not mean they must. For example the cost of provision may be prohibitive for some small councils or appropriate land may not be available, easily let or purchased.
Section 25 – powers of compulsory acquisition of land for allotments on a local authority, via District/Unitary for Parishes
Section 27 – provides for letting to a co-operative. Moreover: where land cannot be let as allotments, it can be let for any other purpose; provided that it can be brought back into allotment use on 12 months’ notice.
Section 30 – where a local authority discovers that a tenant lives more than one mile outside the area for which the allotments are provided; the local authority can serve notice; and one month after any such notice the tenancy determines automatically, by effluxion of time.
Councils can choose to either:
- Control and manage allotments
- Encourage self management of allotments
Control and manage allotments
This means that your council has full control over all aspects of the allotment site. The council is responsible for the provision of water, fences (internal and external), all tenancy agreements, collection of rents etc.
Self management of allotments
This would encourage the establishment of an Allotment Association which would be responsible for the management of the allotments, including tenancies, collection of rents, water, fencing etc. The Association would need to establish its own Committee with Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary etc and formulate its own constitution. Obviously assistance can be provided by the council to enable this to happen.
What does self management cover?
This is up to your council but we would recommend that you treat all sites the same. This could include water, internal fences, external fences, internal pathways and roads, strimming pathways and cutting hedges. This list is not exhaustive and you could include other criteria.
Advantages of self management
One of the advantages of this arrangement is that the council relinquishes itself from the day to day running of the allotments. The council would need to monitor the Association to ensure it adheres to the agreement established between itself and the Association for example to ensure the Association pays the appropriate rent (if any) by the required time.
Another advantage of this set up is that the Association can obtain funds that the Council cannot access and this could enhance the allotments for the benefit of the tenancy holders e,g the Lottery Funds Awards for All scheme. Parish councils can assist Allotment Associations with the completion of grant claims.
How to get to self management status – using carrot or stick approach?
- Offer incentives?
- Reduced rent?
- Zero rent?
- Support with grant applications?
- Material support?
- Prizes for the best site?
- Increase rent?
- support self managed sites more?
- Adhere to allotment tenancy agreement fully
Allotment Tenancy Agreements
Details of allotment Template Agreements can be found below. These are for guidance only and can be used or amended by your council.
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