A Place to Grow - National Assembly for Wales

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A Place to Grow - National Assembly for Wales

1. introductionThe preface to the second edition of the good practiceguide for the management of allotments, Growing inthe community (to be referred to hereafter as the guide),highlights the recent revival of interest in ‘growingyour own’. The consequent increase in the demandfor allotments is reflected in lower vacancy rates andlengthening waiting lists across the UK. Over the twoyears since the publication of the guide, this trend hasintensified. Estimates of waiting lists exceeding 100,000are widely reported 1 , and few areas have vacant plots.Local authorities have come under increasing pressure toprovide new sites, and to accommodate alternative foodgrowing projects where allotments are scarce.The guide pointed to current thinking on healthy eating,organic food and exercise as factors behind the growingdemand for allotments. Over the past two years thelinks to concern over climate change have strengthened,while recession has added to demand as people seek outcheaper ways of accessing food. Above all, the mediahave made allotments fashionable, while berating localauthorities for not doing more to meet the demands ofapplicants, who in some areas may have to wait decadesbefore they can gain access to a plot.This supplementary document seeks to address someof the problems that local authorities (and devolvedmanagement associations) are facing as a consequenceof the increased demand for allotments. It amplifies someof the messages already included in the guide, and addsnew ones for topics which the guide only touches uponlightly, but which have since emerged as key problems incontemporary allotment management.The management of waiting lists and cultivation standardsare obvious examples. In most areas, waiting lists havenot been a focus of concern since the oil crisis temporarilyboosted demand in the 1970s. Rigorous enforcement ofcultivation standards made little sense when tenanted plotswere surrounded by dereliction on all sides. Today, however,many aspiring gardeners face the frustration of waiting ina queue that never seems to move, and are angered by thesight of plots they are denied the opportunity to rent notbeing cultivated as fully as they might be.On the other hand, local authorities have good reasonto be cautious in the face of a fashion that couldpass, turning new investments in allotments into anembarrassing and expensive mistake, as over-reaction inthe 1970s would have done. The imperatives, therefore,are to make the best possible use of the existing estatebefore adding to it, and to ensure that the measurementof demand is robust, so that new investments can bejustified as an appropriate use of resources.The overarching aim of this supplementary documentis to identify good practice in minimising the time thatpeople who wish to rent an allotment have to wait beforethey can do so. We turn first to key issues in managingthe current portfolio of sites to reduce waiting times,including: gardeners; associations are supported in adopting the goodpractice that the public expects.The coverage of new sites in the guide is then extended toinclude: 2 and planningprocedures and strategies; might justify both public and private investment inallotments over other priorities; Finally, we look at the implications of providing newallotments on a temporary, non-statutory basis, and at‘meanwhile gardening’ alternatives in which people canengage while they wait for an allotment plot, building uptheir skills and enthusiasm.a place to grow:a supplementarydocument togrowing in thecommunity5

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