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Allotments in MK

Working with MK Council, Parish councils and national support organisations, we want to ensure that the current allotment stock in Milton Keynes is valued, well managed, and promoted properly and that new allotment sites in the expansion areas are well located, well designed and are seen as an opportunity for ‘arrivals’ work with new communities.

We would like to see a citywide allotment survey carried out to ensure knowledge of the allotment resource (both in terms of the land and people capital) is known outside the local authority and by providing a range of support mechanisms to parish councils during and following the transfer process, ensure they are empowered to carry out decision making about the future of the allotment sites in their parish area.

If you are involved in allotments in your parish area, find out how we can help you

What is the situation with allotments in MK?

Allotments have their roots in the early enclosures of England’s common fields.

Today, the word is used to describe a parcel of land let to an individual on which fruit and vegetable crops are grown for personal consumption. There are approximately 2,500 plots in Milton Keynes but no clear figures for their occupancy. This figure is a reasonably healthy one for a city the size of Milton Keynes, however, anecdotal evidence shows demand is high with waiting lists in many areas but no plans to create additional sites. Some allotment sites are under-utilised, usually because promotion is poor or they are located too far away from where people live. Allotments may be privately owned and administered, owned by trustees or associations or by local authorities. District or unitary authorities cannot provide allotments in areas where there is a parish council or parish meeting.

In line with this, MK Council is pursuing transfer of ownership to the parishes by March 2007. It will continue to offer a management service for some sites. There are a number of allotment societies and associations operating in Milton Keynes.

However, there is no overall body supporting and promoting allotments in Milton Keynes. This lack of targeted support means that allotment tenant’s voices are not being heard and the potential for co-ordinated promotion and opportunities for encouraging healthy lifestyles are being missed.

In terms of the contribution Allotments might make to a mainstream local food economy, law relating to the sale of surplus produce remains desperately vague despite numerous attempts to clarify it. Sale of surplus produce is permitted but as to how each Parish determines this varies widely. In 1998, a report by the Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs entitled The Future of Allotments made a recommendation that restrictions on commercial use and sale of surplus should be repealed and urged the Government to produce a Green Paper to update and enhance allotment legislation.

According to the Department of Communities and Local Government, the English Allotment Survey is due to be published in late 2006 though early indications are that this will not necessarily force a rethink of the law.

Allotment sites are planned for the Milton Keynes expansion areas, but only at the rate of current local plan leisure and recreation standards which is around 20 plots per 1000 population. Legislation requiring town planners to account for future demand was removed from a revision of the 1925 Allotment Act in 1993.

The National Society for Allotments and Leisure Gardeners say that these standards are nowhere near the levels that are now required in some areas or will be in the future, suggesting that figures from the 2006 survey mentioned above be used to set new standards and that local authorities at parish and district level be encouraged to take a pro-active stance on creating local frameworks of support for allotment gardens.

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