UPDATE ON ALLOTMENTS
An update to be presented on allotments.
Anthony Hurst, Parks and Countryside Manager, introduced the item and said he wanted to highlight a few key points for members’ attention. He said all allotment sites had remained open during the Covid pandemic, including during lockdown. Borough staff had worked to maintain allotment sites and the website had been updated to advise holders on to manage them more effectively. The Panel was told waiting lists for the eight allotment sites in Maidenhead had significantly increased over the last two years. Anthony Hurst said there were currently 494 people on the waiting list, compared to 148 people in 2019, and it could be between three and seven years before places became available depending on the allotment. Attempts had been made to make more plots available by subdividing existing plots, and of the 510 allotments there were now only 60 that were the original full size of 250 square metres. Allotments in Windsor were managed differently, and waiting lists were minimal.
Cllr Del Campo asked if the idea of community gardens had been considered, as this would allow residents the opportunity to grow items without needing their own individual plot. She said this would be beneficial on green belt sites that were due to be redeveloped, and would help with the Council’s climate change goals. Cllr Price said landowners could be approached to ask if they would be willing to rent out areas of land or fields as private allotments to alleviate waiting lists, although she accepted this would be more expensive than renting an allotment through the Council. Anthony Hurst said these were both options that could be explored. Responding to a question from the Chairman, Anthony Hurst said discussions were already taking place regarding the possibility of using verges to cultivate plants. Cllr Price said she had heard only a limited number of these were being looked at. Chris Joyce, Head of Infrastructure, Sustainability and Economic Growth, said a limited number of trials were taking place to ascertain how this would work and what resources were required. Once there was a better understanding of how this could work, there was a possibility the scheme could be rolled out further.
Members asked how allotments were managed in terms of how a plot may be taken off a holder if it was not being used. Anthony Hurst said plots were monitored and managers were able to tell from one month to the next if a plot was not being cultivated. If this was the case then the holder would be written to. Anthony Hurst explained that sometimes there were mitigating circumstances, such as the plot holder being ill or, in the case of Covid, having to shield or self isolate. If a plot were to be given up then work would take place to return it to a suitable condition. The process of retrieving and re-allocating a plot could take up to two to three months, depending on whether the holder responded to any correspondence from the Council, the time of year, and/or how neglected the plot was. Notice to quit letters to plot holders gave a four week notice period.
- Restricted enclosure
- Allotments update reportFULL, item 155. PDF 4 MB