Q1a. How should the term ‘allotment’ be defined?
The current Allotment Acts (Scotland) 1892, 1922, 1950 define allotments and allotment gardens as not exceeding one acre (4,000sq.m), 40 poles (1,000sq.m) and 20 poles (500sq.m).
A new definition is required which satisfies current aspirations and gives flexibility.
An Allotment of a standard size is 250sq.m of growing space. A group of standard allotments will comprise an allotment site. The majority of the allotments will be tended by individuals, or their families and friends and will be non commercial. Groupings of individuals and organisations may tend a standard allotments within the allotment site. Fractions of the standard allotment may be made available as required.
Q1b. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, will the proposed change in definition have on different organisations and/or sectors of society?
This would standarize the size of alltoments in Scotland. So people know the site of allotment they will be offered in any part of scotland.
This definition should be applied to new sites established once legislation is in place. The size should not be applied to existing sites.
Q1c. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, will the proposed change in definition have on the environment?
The available land will be used more efficiently, a standard allotment allows an organic based 4 year crop rotation cycle enhancing the quality of the soil and good bacteria, minimising the build-up of pests and harmful bacteria. This ensures that the land and soil remains in good condition in perpetuity. A standard allotment is enough growing space to provide the annual basic fruit and vegetable requirements for a family.
The ability to keep livestock on an allotment will be reduced.The more people that have an allotment the greater their combined carbon footprint will be reduced. Less food packaging. Eating seasonal food. Increased bio-diversity. Greater opportunity for nectar for bees. More composting on allotment sites means less land fill. Allotments across Scotland allow a perfect means to learn about, promote and protect the optimum varieties for local conditions thereby improving food security.
Q1d. What potential economic or regulatory impacts, either positive or negative, will the suggested change to the definition of allotments have?
Standardizing size could mean fewer allotment sites. So reducing the income from allotments to local authorities. The positive aspect is that this would be a national standard so regardless of which local authority everyone would know the size of the plot.
The Role of the Local Authority
Current powers and duties
Q2. What current duties and powers that Local Authorities have in relation to allotments should be changed and in what way?
The current duties as defined by the current Allotment Acts (Scotland) should be enforced. All allotments should be protected from closure by Statute
Maintain a list of people who have requested and are currently awaiting an allotment site. The total number of people awaiting a a plot would be made publicly available. The information being published a regular schedule, eg quaterly.
The current powers as defined by the current Allotment Acts (Scotland) should be enforced. Including, among others, that a register be kept of all allotments within the Local Authority area, and that register be readily available and transparent.
Q2c. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, will the proposed change have on different organisations and/or sectors of society?
The waiting list process would be more transparent to those joining and on a waiting list. The transparency would also have the effect of ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity of gaining a plot. Allow a production of meaningful, verifiable. accurate figures for allotment waiting lists. At least for council managed allotment sites.
Q2d. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, will the proposed have on the environment?
Q2e. What potential economic or regulatory impacts, either positive or negative, will the suggested change have?
Revised powers and duties
A timeframe for gaining an allotment
Q3a. Should Local Authorities be required to provide individuals in their area with an allotment within a specified timeframe?
Q3b. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, would such a duty have on different organisations and/or sectors of society?
Positive this would make feel people that getting an allotment is achievable. Numerous headlines have informed the general public that current demand for allotments far outstrips supply. In some cases in Glasgow a 10 year waiting list not unusual. So it is not unreasonable to imagine that this will put people off even considering putting their name down on a wait list for an allotments as the length of time to wait for an allotment is too long.
Q3c. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, would such a duty have on the environment?
Under used land will be removed from the land stock for the benefit of the community.
This will result in increase biodiversity withing urban area and encourage wildlife particularly with urban areas. A number of sto
Q3d. What potential economic or regulatory impacts, either positive or negative, would such a duty have?
With an increase in the available number of allotments, and people actively using these allotments. Based on various studies which have been done, regarding the positive benefits on peoples health from having an allotment. Combined with eating more fruit and vegetables, exercising more, and various other beneficial aspects of having an allotment. The consequences will be fewer sick days taken by employees, also lowering of demand on heath services.
Increasing the number of allotments also has the added benefit of increased social inclusion. This impacts on a number of parts of society. Allotments have and do actively engage with local schools where possible. So increase social interaction across a wide range of ages groups (eg Barlongock, Merrylee, Mansewood, New Victoria Gardens). Anecdotal evidence from the recent Glasgow Allotments Heritage project, has noted that allotments attracts people from all social strata. Kelivnside, Merrylee, Mansewood, and New Victoria Gardens allotments all noted this when researching their history (www.gah.org.uk) This results increased social interaction amongst groups that may not interact otherwise.
Population size and the number of allotments
Q4a. What are your views on placing a duty on Local Authorities to provide a specific number of allotments in their area per head of population?
Suitable land should be preserved to allow 1 standard allotment per 100 of the population. This set aside land should be made available as demand requires. The SIMD should be taken into account when releasing land and that the total demand is satisfied in these areas. This standard should be set as the minimum standard.
Q4b. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, would such a duty have on different organisations and/or sectors of society?
Increase in the total numbers of allotments would mean that allotment are seen more as a part of everyday life. As opposed to be being seen as a perceived as marginal activity.
Q4c. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, would such a duty have on the environment?
Studies have shown that green areas, such as allotments, increase the biodiversity within urban environments. A number of sites taking steps to activity encourage biodiversity. With increased local food production, this will reduce the amount of CO2 production that the generated from food transport.
Q4d. What potential economic or regulatory impacts, either positive or negative, would such a duty have?
There a wide diversity and number of business which will benefit economically from increased number of allotments
Obvious – Seed merchants, potato seed merchants (a number of potato days in Scotland supplying potatoes to allotments) garden centers, compost manufactures. Other associated manufacturing industries, wheelbarrow production, gardening tools etc
One point worth considering is that as less is put to land fill, and more green waste is being generated/processed, which will be generated by allotments. As with all recycling processes a demand for the product must also exist. Glasgow allotments are generating a demand form compost manufactures in the local vicinity. Hence allotments will encourage such “green” industries. Not only by supplying the raw materials, also consuming the product.
Other unexpected benefits are the construction industry. New allotments require to be built this will require the expertise of the construction industry. The redevelopment of Mansewood allotments the contract was awarded to a construction company just 200m from the site. As other sites which have been allowed to deteriorate due to lack of investment due to previous lack of demand. These sites will require work to bring back to a suitable standard, not least due to security concerns.
Allotments and planning
Q5a. Should Local Authorities be required by statute to develop and publish a strategic plan relating to land use for food growing purposes?
Q5b. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, would such a duty have on different organisations and/or sectors of society?
See comment for question 4a
Q5c. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, would such a duty have on the environment?
Q5d. What potential economic or regulatory impacts, either positive or negative, would such a duty have?
Updating and Simplifying the Legislation
Q6a. In what other ways, other than those already outlined in section 6. (of the consultation document), should the legislation relating to the provision of allotments be updated and, or simplified?
The language used is outdated. The historical circumstances which existed when the legislation was drafted are no longer applicable to the modern day allotments. The updating of the language to use terms which the current modern day lay person (or even in some circumstances the legal profession) can understand is very much needed.
Consideration should be given the allowing of structures on allotments. The structures referred to are not applicable to modern day allotments. Given the climate that is experience in Scotland, some form of shelter and store on allotment sites should be permitted.
With the variety of grow your own projects which have arisen in the recent pass. Consideration should be given to defining allotments a separate entity.
Projects such as community gardens, temporary stalled spaces gardens, community orchards, or other growing spaces. Should not be considered in the same way as allotments the ownership ethos and management of such sites is different. Projects such as temporary growing spaces, community gardens etc, are ideal ways for introducing people to the grow your own concept and ideas. They also provide excellent community engagement, different from the way allotments sites engage with their local community. Community gardens etc should and cannot be seen in the same way as allotment sites. Local authorities might use such projects as a way of avoiding the requirement to provide full size allotment plots.
Some consideration should be given to charging tariff for allotment plots. Information gathered through FOI requests in 2010 demonstrates, a wide variety charges for allotments plots. Some charges could result in plots becoming socially exclusive in some areas, as some people such as unemployed being unable to afford the rental. There is some concern regarding the same in Glasgow.
Q6b. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, will the suggested legislative changes have on different organisations and/or sectors of society?
May require some local authorities that have rules or other polices to have a one off update to refer to the update / newer legislation.
Q6c. What potential impacts, either positive or negative, will the suggested legislative changes have on the environment?
Q6d. What potential economic or regulatory impacts, either positive or negative, will the suggested legislative changes have?
During the discussions regarding the consolation two other subjects where raised which we have providing as an addendum.
Community assets as one of the core aims should “ for the community, run by the community”. Given that the CERB consultation wishes to allow more community ownership. What thought has been given to the issue of governance?
In the allotment community in Glasgow (as is mirrored in many community assets through out Glasgow). There are serious concerns regarding governance of such assets. A number of sites both existing and newly established sites are struggling with issues directly relating to governance of the assets. Whilst the aspirations is to release assets for community ownership and so great community utilization, generating great community benefit as a result.
Consideration should be given to how these assets are manged once the project is created and launched. Allotment sites have been created within Glasgow, which is both welcome and much appreciated. Yet little forward planning seems to be have given as to how these projects will move forward to and establish themselves as thrive communities in their own right.
To use an analogy, no parent would expect a toddler to fend for themselves. Yet allotment sites, have been established. People who wishes to be involved had the site handed over then left to fend for themselves so speak. Little thought or consideration as to how to help the community to develop and become self manging. There is considerable anecdotal evidence even within Glasgow Allotments Forum. That to develop such self manging communities takes time and effort.
So some time and thought should be allocated as to how such newly formed communities can be helped to establish and thrive. Rather than being left to die or thrive depending solely on the initiative of the people involved.
As demand for new allotments has increased so Glasgow City Council has responded and built new sites. These new sites, fall short of the expectations of plots holders. This is mostly likely a combination of a number of circumstances. Including but not restricted lack of guidance available, lack of financial resources, designer's without the practical knowledge of allotments, consultation of experienced allotment holders, etc.
With a number of allotments sites being built and others extended or renovated a number of missing facilities are routinely highlighted as lacking. These include but not restricted to
As with design of many public facilities guidelines are available. For example Scottish Health Technical Memorandums (http://www.hfs.scot.nhs.uk/publications-1/engineering/shtm-2010/). These ensure a standard is maintained. Rather than expecting local authorities to set a standard which they feel is suitable. Setting a national standard would make much more sense to ensure such facilities are designed correctly the first time.
- Community areas - for open days, or other community events
- Communal storage - tools, compost, etc
- Recycling facilities - green waste, wood, metal etc
- Waste areas - green waste cages for ease of access by HGV
- Water - running water supply
- Huts for individual plot holders on own sites
- Adequate security to suitable standard
Both Glasgow Allotments Forum and Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society would be delighted to help draft such a document. If they where invited to do so.