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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Guide to renting an allotment

If you have run out of space in your garden or even if you haven’t, renting an allotment is a way of gaining ground to grow your own fruit, flowers and vegetables. Find out more about the benefits of an allotment, the different types of allotment and what you can expect to get.

Benefits of having an allotment

The benefits of having an allotment include:

• it’s an affordable source of fresh fruit and vegetables
• it reduces your exposure to pesticides
• giving you fresh air and healthy exercise
• it helps reduce stress and can give you a sense of achievement
• it’s good for the environment by providing green spaces and wildlife habitats

Your allotment is rented to you for growing vegetables and fruit for your own and your family’s use.

How to get an allotment

Contact your local council to find out where your nearest allotment sites are. Your local council will usually own allotment land and will either allocate you a plot or add your name to the waiting list if there is one. If there are no council allotments in your area, your council may be able to put you in touch with private sites.

If you think a whole allotment is too much (approximately 250 square metres) then ask if you can rent a half plot or share the plot with a friend.

Your rights depend on what type of allotment you have. There are three types of allotment:

• permanent allotments cannot be sold or used for other purposes without the consent of the Secretary of State
• temporary allotments are not protected from disposal – and it can therefore be sold
• privately owned land can also be let for use as allotments but is not protected from disposal by your local council.

What happens if the local council wants to dispose of the land?

If your local council’s allotment authority wants to sell an allotment site it must have the consent of the Secretary of State, and fulfill certain conditions, including consultation with plotholders.

If the application is successful, the allotment authority has to provide an alternative site.
If an allotment authority ends a tenancy, the plot holder is entitled to compensation.

If your allotment is temporary or on privately owned land, then the Secretary of State's consent is not required but the allotment authority will usually need to give you 12 months notice to quit.

What will be provided to you

Facilities will vary, but there are some basic things that you should normally expect on any site:

• access should be safe and secure for all users and main paths should be kept clear
• an accessible water supply is essential (the cost is often included in the rent)
• some may have toilet facilities
• some may have site huts which serve as a meeting place
• some provide sheds for plot holders and charge rent for them
• there should be adequate security measures against vandalism, such as good fences and hedges 

How much does it cost?

The allotment authority will decide the annual rent taking into account the cost of managing the site, local needs and any special circumstances.

Rent is normally paid in advance: details will be set out in the tenancy agreement and if you do not pay you could lose your tenancy. You may be eligible for a discount.

If you are unhappy about the charges, you should take your case up directly with the allotment authority. The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) may be able to give advice.

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