«CONTENTS 1. INTRODUCTION 2. LEGISLATION 3. NATIONAL CONTEXT 4. WIRRAL ALLOTMENTS 5. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES 6. ACTION PLAN 7. MONITORING AND REVIEW 8. ...»
DEPARTMENT OF REGENERATION
PARKS AND COUNTRYSIDE SERVICE
2007 – 2012
WIRRAL ALLOTMENT STRATEGY 2007 – 2012
3. NATIONAL CONTEXT
4. WIRRAL ALLOTMENTS
5. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
6. ACTION PLAN
7. MONITORING AND REVIEW
8. APPENDIX Front Cover: Allotment at Love Lane Wirral Council Department of Regeneration Parks and Countryside Service Westminster House Hamilton Street Birkenhead Wirral CH41 5FN
1. INTRODUCTION Wirral Council has produced this allotment strategy with the aim to provide strategic guidelines for the management, administration, promotion, development and funding of allotments in Wirral. It aims to raise the profile of allotments and to optimise their use for existing and potential tenants, suiting the needs of all sections of the community.
The strategy examines the way forward for the Council’s allotments over the next five years. It identifies a number of prime objectives, describes the background and issues relevant to the provision of allotments and outlines appropriate courses of action and further developments to improve allotment sites.
Healthy crop at Dawson Allotments
2. LEGISLATION Wirral Council has a statutory duty to provide allotments and recognises them as an important asset. There is a complex network of legislation relating to allotment administration, which is governed by statute and case law. The legal framework that has developed since 1908 has established a model for the administrative process. It is essential that as the allotment authority, the Council is aware of its duties and observes precedents that have been set.
These will be reflected in the development proposals and action plan contained within the strategy.
The legislation which directly affects allotment administration and the development constraints on this strategy are contained within the following
The Small Holdings & Allotments Act 1908:
This consolidated all previous allotment legislation. It repeats the duty of local authorities to provide allotments.
Land Settlement (Facilities) Act 1919:
This legislation amended the 1908 Act.
The Allotment Act 1922:
The act provides tenants with a measure of security of tenure. This act has since been amended by the Local Government Act 1972.
Allotment Act 1925:
Requires town-planning authorities to give special consideration to allotments when preparing their town planning and as a consequence is relevant to the Council’s Unitary Development Plan and the emerging Local Development Framework.
Small Holding and Allotment Act 1926:
Made a number of improvements to the law mostly concerning smallholdings.
Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Act 1931:
This was passed at a time of economic depressionand has little impact today.
Allotment Act 1950:
Strengthened the requirements on Councils to provide allotment gardens.
Provisions relating to rents were also affected. This Act included issues relating to notices to quit and compensation.
Town and Country Planning Act 1971:
Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004:
Have considerable influence on the forward planning of allotments and are relevant to the Council’s Unitary Development Plan and the emerging Local Development Framework.
The Local Government Planning & Land Act 1980 and the Local Government & Planning (Amendment) Act 1981:
Consolidated planning legislation, which has further influenced the forward planning of authorities.
The various acts are collectively known as the ‘Allotment Acts’ and will be referred to as such in this strategy.
Allotment sites are designated as statutory or temporary. Statutory sites are those that have been acquired by the Council for the purpose of being allotment gardens whilst temporary sites have been acquired for other purposes and are used as allotments in the interim. Statutory sites are directly protected by the Allotment Acts but temporary sites are not.
3. NATIONAL CONTEXT
Allotment gardening is a pursuit that provides wide-ranging benefits to local communities and the environment and can make a positive change to the quality of people’s lives. In addition to the advantages of producing good quality, local, low cost, fresh food gardeners gain the benefits of healthy exercise that is active, socially inclusive and reflects the ideals of sustainability and well-being. Allotments are available to all sections of the community including the old, young, disabled and people from ethnic communities. Allotments are a unique and valuable aspect of the local area contributing to the quality of the urban built environment and the range of local leisure provision. They also contribute to Wirral’s Sustainable Community Strategy, provide opportunities for wildlife and can contribute to the retention of traditional skills. Gardening is the single biggest leisure activity undertaken by the public and in recent years an increasing amount of attention has been shown to allotment gardening.
Allotments were subject to an extensive inquiry in 1998 by the House of Commons – Environment, Transport & Regional Affairs Committee. The Select Committee’s report, “The Future of Allotments” (ref. HC560-I), was the first major government study of allotments and leisure gardens since Professor Thorpe’s inquiry in 1969 and resulted in a number of conclusions and recommendations, focusing attention on areas where Local Authorities needed to take action.
The Select Committee expressed grave concern that there has been a national decline in allotment provision resulting from the growing pressure for development that is being placed on urban green spaces. At the end of world war two in 1945 there were one and a half million allotment plots in England but by 1966 that had declined to a little over a quarter of a million. The inquiry confirmed the patchy nature of Local Authority policy on allotments and that most councils had no strategy policy in place for their protection and development. These trends were thought more disconcerting because there is now a growing interest in allotments which, the select committee felt, was not being addressed by Local Authorities.
Since the publication of the Select Committee report the Local Government Commission has commissioned a major study on allotment management, funded by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Greater London Authority and the Shell Better Britain Campaign. The study, entitled “Growing in the Community: a good practice guide for the management of allotments” was based upon extensive research into current good practice, innovation and successful ideas implemented by Local Authorities across England and Wales. “Growing in the Community” provides a framework in which Local Authorities might manage their allotment portfolio and includes the Local Government Associations ‘Advocacy Document’ for allotments, a powerful summary of the many benefits which allotments can provide.
Wirral Council has prepared this document in accordance with the recommendations on developing an allotment strategy and the proposals are in keeping with the examples of best practice given by the Local Government Commission in “Growing in the Community: a good practice guide for the management of allotments”.
4. WIRRAL ALLOTMENTS
The Department of Regeneration’s Mission statement:
“Promoting a healthy, safer lifestyle and improving the quality of life for all”
Management Wirral Council administers 41 allotment sites containing a total of 1689 full plots. Their locations are set out in Appendix 1. Two additional sites are selfmanaged by their own allotment societies. A full plot is approximately 250m2 in size. Some sites also have provision for half plots, plots for the disabled, community plots, school plots and animal plots. A full time Allotments Officer with administrative support, assisted by Site Secretaries manages Wirral’s allotments.
Register of Tenants / Waiting Lists
The Parks and Countryside Service keeps a register of tenants and a waiting list of Wirral residents who have expressed a wish to be allocated a plot. All new tenants are required to sign a tenancy agreement.
At the time of writing 92% of allotments are let. The annual level of vacancies is used as a Departmental performance indicator. There are currently 33 unusable plots on various sites that cannot be let for a number of reasons, the main one being bad drainage. These plots have not been included in the vacant plot calculation.
The waiting lists are maintained on a first come, first allocated basis for each site. There are currently waiting lists on most sites, with differing reasons why some sites are in higher demand than others. Adverts to highlight vacancies can be placed in the local press.
Allotment Administration There is a procedure in place to inspect plots, to ensure conformance with the tenancy agreement, which is in accordance with the ‘Allotment Acts’.
Enforcement can involve a process of serving a warning notice, giving one month to comply with the notice, followed by a notice to quit for noncompliance. Non- cultivation of plots is the most frequent cause for this procedure to be implemented. Enquiries and complaints are dealt with in accordance with Departmental procedures.
The annual rental for an allotment plot must be paid in advance for the twelvemonth period beginning the 1st October each year. Half the full rental amount is charged for a half-plot. Concessions of 50% are given to people over sixty years old. Wirral Passport holders are eligible for concessions of 50% or 10% depending on the category of passport held.
Promoting the Benefits of Allotments
The Parks and Countryside Service publish an allotment leaflet guide to Wirral’s allotments. Articles concerning allotments occasionally appear in the local press. Allotment site information and the application procedure is available to view on Wirral Council’s web site at: www.wirral.gov.uk Wirral Allotment Association in partnership with the Council organises the annual Wirral Flower and Vegetable Show, which is normally held at Birkenhead Park.
Allotment Societies All allotment tenants are members of the Wirral Allotment Association.
Nineteen sites have their own societies and the Council supports and encourages tenants to participate in them. Most have an active social programme and other benefits associated with membership. These societies are members of the Wirral Federation of Allotment Societies, which is affiliated to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) Ltd.
Membership of External Bodies
Wirral Council is an affiliate member of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) Ltd. This is Britain’s largest body concerned with the management of allotments. Council officers regularly attend meetings of the North West Region of the NSALG and attend the annual general meeting of the national body. The Council occasionally seeks the advice of the NSALG in allotment management issues.
Wirral Council has won the prestigious Bledisloe Cup every year since 2002 for its allotment management service, in the category of Local Authority with over 200,000 population. This is a national competition run by the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners.
An annual Council competition is held for all tenants to enter. Plots are judged in July and a prize giving ceremony held in October. Currently there are approximately 90 entries for the main competition and 20 for the newcomer’s section each year.
5. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES The aims of the strategy are set within the overall framework and operation of the Council’s policies, objectives and linked strategies, such as the Parks and Countryside Service Plan and the Wirral Biodiversity Action Plan.
The aims are:
1. To maintain and improve the infrastructure, facilities and quality of allotment sites, ensuring sites are welcoming and accessible to all.
2. To have safe and secure allotment sites.
3. To continue to implement an effective management and administration process.
4. To improve customer satisfaction and increase tenant participation in the management of sites.
5. To promote allotments as a benefit for the whole community, realising the opportunity they offer for education and lifelong learning and to increase social inclusion initiatives.
6. To highlight the role that allotments play in developing a more sustainable environment, encouraging biodiversity and conservation.
7. To develop a health agenda for allotments, focusing on the benefits, in terms of improving health in the borough.
8. To review the existing provision of allotments in Wirral and if necessary to identify areas of potential future allotment provision.
Aim 1 : To maintain and improve the infrastructure, facilities and quality of allotment sites, ensuring sites are welcoming and accessible to all It is recognised by Wirral Council that the principal issues contributing to encourage people to take up allotments relate to quality, security, accessibility and affordability.
The infrastructure of an allotment site is very important to its tenants, in particular security against theft and vandalism.