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November 1, 2017

Calling all allotmenteers

When the Community Empowerment Act was just a twinkle in the eye of policy wonks writing the SNP 2011 manifesto, few saw a connection with the world of allotments. But for those steeped in the allotment movement, and who knew all too well the constraints of working with out of date legislation, this was the opportunity they had been waiting for. Few interest groups worked as hard and diligently as SAGS did to argue their case. And they continue to do so, to ensure the published guidance makes sense. They encourage all allotmenteers to respond accordingly.


Jenny Reeves and Judy Wilkinson, SAGS



ACT before November 17th

The history of allotments in Scotland over the last 100 years has shown that how local authorities interpret legislation determines the fate of allotments.

The Scottish Government has just issued a Consultation on the Guidance *associated with the new allotments legislation in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (CEA)** The

Guidance is about way local authorities should implement the law on allotments, how they should be provided, managed and organised. Depending on the approach it will either lead to the creation of new allotments or the demise of existing ones.



It is essential that the Guidance local authorities follow is in the best interests of the whole allotment movement – plotholders, people on waiting lists and all sites, whether they are directly managed by the local authority, self-managed on publicly owned land or totally independent.

It is therefore important that everyone with an allotment or who wants an allotment in Scotland makes their views known by responding to this consultation.

The questions in the Consultation often contain several statements in one question so it is unclear how they will be evaluated. Therefore please use the Comment box to make your response.

Q1. Section 110: Offer to lease an allotment

The Act says that the standard size of an allotment plot is 250 sq.m. This has long been established as the size of plot required for a family to be reasonably self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. Some people do not want a plot as big as this and it is possible to accept a smaller allotment by agreement,

 • it is important that the local authority recognises the legal right to a standard allotment plot if requested.

 • a standard allotment plot should be as close as possible to 250 sq m., given the limitations of the site.

 • People should also have the right to move from a smaller plot to a standard plot (or from a standard plot to a smaller one) if their needs change in the future.

 • the lease must be clear about the relationship between the lessees and the land owner

Q2. Section 111: Duty to maintain a list

• The responsibility for maintaining the central list should not be delegated to individual allotment associations. Those wanting allotments should register with the local authority in the first instance.

•The list should include an option to request a plot in a given area – to enable local authorities to assess the need for new sites.

 • Independent sites should be encouraged to link in to the centralised list for

 allotments – so that everyone wanting a plot is counted and to maximise the choice offered to people looking for a plot.

 • Good data on the demand for allotments is essential to ensure land for allotments is found and preserved.

Q3 Section 112: Duty to provide allotments

The Act states that ‘reasonable steps’ must be taken by local authorities to fulfil the duty to provide allotments where there is a demand and no-one who wants a plot waits more than five years. Clarification is needed from Scottish Government on what is considered ‘reasonable’.

Reasonable steps should

 • include an analysis of the future long term demand based on good data

 • identify land that is suitable for growing;

 • preserve sufficient good quality land to satisfy projected demand.

 • incorporate growing spaces in all planning briefs for regeneration and new developments;

NOTE: • Travel time should be the main definition of ‘reasonably close’

Q5. Sections 115 and 116: Allotment site regulations and further provision

Background: Regulations must in particular include provision for or in connection with—

 (a) allocation of allotments,

 (b) rent, including a method of determining fair rent that takes account of—

 (i) services provided by, or on behalf of, the local authority to tenants of allotments,

 (ii) the costs of providing those services, and

 (iii) circumstances that affect, or may affect, the ability of a person to pay the rent payable under the lease of an allotment,

 (c) cultivation of allotments,

 (d) maintenance of allotments,

 (e) maintenance of allotment sites,

 (f) buildings or other structures that may be erected on allotments, the modifications that may be made to such structures and the materials that may or may not be used in connection with such structures,

 (g) the keeping of livestock (including poultry), and

(h) landlord inspections.

It is important to have well managed and well regulated sites. There are many ways to run and manage an allotment site. Local authorities should work with the allotment community, supporting and helping them so the structure meets the communities requirements.

• the local authority should consult and co-produce site regulations with all members of the allotment community in a local area.

• the local authority regulations should should provide a framework covering aspects such equalities, data protection and complying with legal and environmental requirements.

 • individual allotments sites should develop rules and regulations that specify how they manage their site on a day to day basis.

 • partnership working between the local authority and the plot-holders to agree all procedures, regulations and how they are implemented; agreement on the responsibilities of all involved.

Q6. 119. Duty to prepare food-growing strategy

Background: The legal position in Section 119 of the Act is:

(1) Each local authority must prepare a food-growing strategy for its area.

(3) A food-growing strategy is a document—

 (a) identifying land in its area that the local authority considers may be used as allotment sites,

(b) identifying other areas of land in its area that could be used by a community for the cultivation of vegetables, fruit, herbs or flowers,

 (c) describing how, where the authority is required to take reasonable steps under section 112(1), the authority intends to increase the provision in its area of

(i) allotments, or

(ii) other areas of land for use by a community for the cultivation of vegetables, fruit, herbs or flowers, and

(4) The description required by paragraph (c) of subsection (3) must in particular describe whether and how the authority intends to increase the provision of the types of land mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection in communities which experience socioeconomic disadvantage.

• The local authority should not conflate the need for and the provision of land for allotments with the requirements for other food growing areas.

 • Evidence for the need for other food growing areas should be kept separate.

Q7: 120. Duty to review food-growing strategy

• the allotment waiting list is for allotments NOT for other Grow-your-Own opportunities.

Q8: Section 123 Delegation of management of allotment sites

Background: SAGS have asked for clarification about the roles and responsibility in delegated management and devolved management.

The legal position (section 123 of the Act) is:

Delegation of management of allotment sites

 NOTE: (3) The functions are

 (a) (i) request to lease allotment

 (ii) duty to maintain list

 (iii) display and copies of allotment site regulations

 (iv) promotion and use of allotments: expenditure,

 (b) the giving of notice under—

 (i) notice of termination of lease of allotment or allotment site,

 (ii) notice of resumption,

 (iii) notice of termination:sublease by local authority.

There are a number of different ways in which sites can be managed and it is necessary to clarify the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved. The relationship between the local authority and the allotment association should be clear with the responsibilities of both sides understood and agreed.

• there is a clear statement in the Guidance about the different models of delegated and devolved management and the legal responsibilities of allotment associations undertaking these duties.

• the management of an allotments association’s own waiting list should neither override nor be used as a substitute for the local authority’s duty to ensure it holds an accurate record of all those wanting an allotment within its area.

 • the relationship between fair rent and delegated duties.

 • if the association takes on more delegated or devolved management functions as part of a lease then the legal position of the site and the liability of the plot-holders should be clarified by the local authority lawyers.

 • there should be a mediation service available to local authority officers, plotholders and allotment associations to enable them to resolve any disputes that occur in an amicable manner 1

Q9 124. Promotion and use of allotments: expenditure

It is important that everyone involved with allotments understands how they function and the culture of the allotment movement.

• a national forum should be set up for local authority officers and allotment association members to share relevant information and examples of good practice.

 This is relevant for independent sites as well as Council sites.

 • as well as training for plot-holders, the Scottish Government funds training for local authority officers who have responsibility for allotments, but who may not have much experience of working with them, so that they can learn from best practice elsewhere in Scotland.

Q 10: Further Guidance

Today allotments are not just about food but about so much more. Growing vegetables, and flowers is good for physical and mental health, the environment and society. The implementation of the Act depends on the Local Development Plans, Local Place Plans and democratic organisations such as the community councils.

 • Therefore carrying out the functions of the local authority under the Act should be the responsibility of all relevant departments

This Briefing is based on a briefing from the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society and a seminar with Glasgow Allotment Forum members.

Oct 20th 2017


1 NOTE: Guidance we have had from Scottish Government: “The provision of allotments is a service provided by a local authority and, as such, if an individual has a complaint about how a local authority provides any of its services, including allotments, they should in the first instance contact the relevant local authority using the authority’s procedure for complaint. If, after following this procedure, the individual is unhappy with the response from the local authority, they can take their complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO): However the SSPO does not have jurisdiction on devolved management site