Thursday, 20 February 2014

Allotments in East Devon

Local authorities have obligations to provide allotments:
and indeed, any group of six can ask for more:

The District Council itself has conceded the number of allotments it should be providing:

The English Allotment Survey (1997) remains the most up to date national guidance on the amount of allotments required per population. This states that in Devon, there should be 12 plots/1000 population. 


... which amounts to about 1600 allotments, according to the District's population of about 135,000. 

In its various draft Local Plans over the last years, the District Council has conceded there is a need for more allotments: 

However, the District Council admits that it has a very limited number of allotments on its books: 

East Devon District Council only administers allotments in Sidmouth.

There are 3 sites in the town:-
Lawn Vista
Lymebourne Lane.
Peaslands (West Park Road)

These allotments are non-statutory, or temporary, and are not covered by the Allotments Acts 1908 - 1950.

Most other allotments in East Devon are managed by town or parish councils. Please visit the Parish and Town Councils page to view the contact details.

Councils are able to state that they need more time to find land:

Councils exploit legal loophole to get out of providing allotments
Councils are exploiting a legal loophole to escape their obligation to provide allotments, according to campaigners who claim almost 200,000 gardeners are stuck on waiting lists.

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent  22 May 2010

The rising cost of food and trend towards healthier eating has led to a sharp increase in the number of people keen to grown their own fruit and vegetables.

Celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver are encouraging the trend and at Chelsea Flower Show next week grow-your-own will be a major theme once again.

However recent figures show people in some areas are forced to wait up to 40 years for an allotment.

The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) estimate that across the country more than 180,000 keen amateur gardeners have been left without a plot. The campaign group claim that councils are using a loophole in century-old law to get out of their statutory duty to provide land for allotments.

Under the 1908 Allotments and Small Holdings Act councils have a duty to provide land if six people or more request an allotment. Should none be available the authorities are required to force private landowners to free up space.

But Donna McDaid of NSALG said there is no time limit on how long councils can claim they are actively "looking for land" and some say they have searching for up to eight years. She said this preventing campaigners from using the law to force councils to provide allotments because officials claim they are still looking for an appropriate site. "If people are asking for allotments then councils have to look for land, but a lot are just saying they are looking and we can do nothing about it because there is no time frame," she said. "I think they are probably exploiting a legal loophole."

Mrs McDaid said councils manage to find land for other services like swimming pools. She said councils do not need planning permission to convert agricultural land to allotments. She also said councils can compulsorily rent land if it is needed and pointed out that that central Government is currently urging councils to use derelict land, building sites and even car parks to provide allotments. She said that the NSALG will take legal action against any councils that refuse to provide land and are considering if there is any way to prove a council is dragging its heels. "We would consider taking action if the local authority does not adhere to the legislation," she said.

The Local Government Association said councils are taking action wherever possible to provide land for allotments.

Councils exploit legal loophole to get out of providing allotments - Telegraph

Back in March 2009, the Vision Group petitioned the District Council - but to little effect:
Sites for Sidmouth allotments sought by Vision Group - News - Sidmouth Herald

The Honiton Allotment Association put together a high-profile petition in April 2012: 

The Vision Group helped to raise some funds for the children’s allotment at the Stowford Rise community centre in September 2011 - although this land had  been set aside by the developer as part of its planning application obligations: 
Growing success - Letters - Sidmouth Herald

A problem is that local authorities are under pressure to build housing – and allotments often occupy prime building land...

For example in Seaton: 

There was some support for rounding off the north west of the town, and houses could be built on allotments, which would be re-sited further out of town. 


And in Budleigh Salterton: 

An outline planning application has been submitted by Clinton Devon Estates, who propose to build up to 50 homes on allotments at Greenway Lane

Budleigh: new allotment plans revealed - News - Exmouth Journal

A comment from the CPRE, amongst others: 

Allotments are popular and useful. Some landowners put in hard standing, water, and electric light. Later, one might see an application for housing. This type of creeping development is to be avoided, and needs a policy.


In Sidmouth allotments will be getting fewer – the allotments just off Peaslands Rd, for example, will eventually be taken over by the cemetery...


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