28 February 2014

Council strategy to improve allotments service

Plans to provide more opportunities for city residents to ‘grow their own’, are being considered by councillors.

Brighton & Hove City Council has produced a 10 year Allotment Strategy which sets out plans to improve the service and reduce the waiting list.

The strategy has been drawn in up partnership with the Allotment Federation and with input from allotment holders across the city. This included surveys of allotment holders and people on the waiting list which attracted more than 1,800 responses.

A focus group of 12 site reps was set up and a consultation evening attracted more than 50 people.

In Brighton & Hove there are more than 3,100 allotments across 37 sites, with more than 6,000 people regularly taking part in allotment gardening in the city. There are a further 1,000 people on the allotment waiting list. (Following a survey of people on the waiting list, the number has dropped from 2,200 due to people moving out of the area or losing interest.)

The strategy proposes providing more information to those on the waiting list such as the options of a smaller plot or an alternative site with a shorter waiting time.

In recent years the council has split all full plots in half when they have become available to increase capacity and reduce waiting lists. The strategy proposes giving those on the waiting list a choice of plot size, including the traditional large plots but also piloting new ‘micro plots’ to reduce waiting lists further and support those new to growing. Councillors will also consider introducing a £15 charge to join the waiting list, to help fund the service.

Promoting organic gardening, cutting down on use of chemicals, increasing composting and reducing water consumption will form part of an action plan to help meet the council’s Biosphere objectives.

Cllr Pete West, chair of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee said: “In addition to growing food, allotment gardening has widespread benefits including improving physical and mental health, stress relief, becoming more environmentally aware and providing opportunities to socialise.

“By working closely with the Allotment Association, we are pleased to be putting forward proposals which will not only improve the service for current allotment holders, but also enable many more people to enjoy the benefits of ‘growing their own.’”

The service also supports ‘community plots’ which are run independently by volunteers or charities.

The strategy will be considered by the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday, March 4.