Draft allotment strategy 2021

Contents

Introduction

There is a lot to be positive about with Bassetlaw’s allotments; they are an increasingly diverse and wonderful resource where tenants have no problem putting into words the benefits they feel from working an allotment.  It is sometimes hard to remember the positives when we are tasked to keep focusing on the many improvements still needed and the limits of funding to achieve them.

As part of Bassetlaw District’s green infrastructure, every £1 spent on allotments is bringing a particularly high social return on investment (SROI) through health and wellbeing, social and environmental benefits worth many times more than the initial investment. Allotments in Bassetlaw currently receive a significant subsidy to cover the shortfall between rental income and actual running costs. This reflects the value they bring to tenants and the district as a whole.  Effectively measuring the depth and range of concentrated benefits from allotments is an essential part of delivery and showing why they justify funding both now and into the future.

The resurgence of interest in allotment gardening seen when the last allotment strategy was produced in 2010 has both endured and grown and looks like it is a permanent feature rather than a passing trend. The challenges this creates in terms of meeting demand are so much more welcome than working out what to do with an allotment resource where interest is dwindling.

The relevance of allotments has come full circle from their early days of being a route out of food poverty for the ‘labouring poor’.  They once again have a role to play in modern food poverty for people on low incomes, the need for all sectors of society to consume healthier calories, for everyone to become more physically active and make life choices that promote health and happiness.

The relevance of allotments has also been reinforced by our experiences as a society where austerity measures finally easing were quickly followed by the Covid 19 pandemic. The need for outdoor leisure and constructive activities that boost our mental health was brought into sharp focus through lockdowns and months of furloughs for many people.  

Executive Summary

This new allotment strategy updates and follows on from the previous strategy document. This was built around a substantial amount of preparatory work from the 2009 Bassetlaw District Council Scrutiny Committee (Select Panel 4) report and a comprehensive community and partner consultation.  This strategy takes account of everything that has been learned from delivering the actions from the last document. The learning gained from an action being a resounding or partial success or even failures are equally important.

By necessity the new strategy will include Climate Change and Biodiversity as specific headings for environmental actions.  In both of these areas allotments can contribute towards achieving multiple aims within the District wide strategies.

Sustainability will be included as an underpinning theme running through actions delivered in project work which are designed to endure long term and general actions that make better and more sustainable use of limited resources.

A major challenge for allotments in Bassetlaw is how to level up demand between different locations.  Some allotment sites in the most disadvantaged areas have numerous vacant plots.  The challenge in these areas is to find ways to translate local need for the benefits of allotments into actual demand.  Sustainable and creative ways to address these issues will be suggested in the strategy.

The core 5 aims of the previous strategy are being kept with some adjustments to wording for two of the themes, these are as follows:

Aim 1: To ensure there is a sufficient allocated stock to meet the present and future demands.

Aim 2: To promote allotment gardens to all sectors of the community.

Aim 3: To provide a well administered service.

Aim 4: To provide adequate resources for a resilient and sustainable service.

Aim 5: To address climate change and promote biodiversity.

The History of Allotments

The history of allotments in different forms goes back many hundreds of years to the 16th Century.  They were very different to what we know as modern allotments and were found in rural areas.  Many agricultural workers cultivated strips of common land for crops and grazed animals in open areas. These common lands would be taken into private ownership through a process of Enclosures Acts which began in the 1600’s.  This meant that landless agricultural workers lost all rights to use the former common lands. Without any independent means of producing their own food these workers became doubly poor.

Some landowners used providing allotments as a substitute for giving higher wages and the size of land ‘allotted’ was limited to an amount considered to be just enough so their workers would not spend too much time and energy on their allotted land.  The modern allotment really began in the 19th Century and was initially a largely rural feature.  These were sometimes provided for the ‘labouring or deserving poor’.  With that description any allotment gardener would be reminded of their station in life but there was at least the dignity of being able to independently grow food to feed a family rather than being at the mercy of charity.  Having an allotment would not stop a family being poor but it could dramatically reduce food poverty and the ill health that inevitably followed.

During the 19th Century the early urban allotment started to emerge.  These were sometimes leisure gardens for the wealthy town centre residents who did not have their own gardens at home.  Leisure gardens could even be quite grand affairs with brick built summer houses.  With the development of suburban living attracting wealthier residents out of town centres many leisure gardens were taken over by working class allotment gardeners needing them purely to grow food.

The 1878 Allotment Act enabled local authorities to acquire land for allotments, also making it compulsory for them to provide them where there was demand.  Local authorities sometimes resisted this obligation and the Small holding and Allotments Act of 1908 now forced them to provide allotments where demand from at least 6 people on the electoral roll was raised. Much of the legislation from the 1908 act of Parliament is still in force today.

By this time allotments were a mixed provision led by local authorities but also including major employers such as collieries and railways, charitable trusts and private land owners. The size of allotment at 10 poles or 300 square yards (250 square metres) was also to become increasingly established as the standard plot size.

By the start of World War One in 1914 there was between 450,000 to 600,000 allotments in England and by 1917 this had increased to 1.5 million in response to the need to securely produce food for a nation at war.  This number had dropped to 819,000 by the start of World War Two in 1939.  The need for food security during war time saw the Dig for Victory campaign emerge where another 500,000 allotments were created.

Allotments went into a sharp decline in use during the 1950’s and 60’s.  The end of rationing in 1954, the need for building land, rising living standards and the emergence of convenience foods saw the incredible social good provided by allotments becoming more sidelined as a niche interest.  This continued as a trend despite a number of small peaks of interest until the 1990’s by which time there were only around 265,000 allotments left.

Coming right up to date in the 21st Century, allotments are seeing a solid resurgence of interest. There are now around 300,000 allotments with 100,000 people on waiting lists.  In many ways allotments have now come full circle since the 1887 Smallholding and Allotments Act where some of their relevance is just as pressing today. 

Food poverty may take a very different form today than in the 19th Century but it is increasingly impacting many low income individuals and families.  Allotments can play an important role within food poverty and the need to increase consumption of fruit and vegetables that cuts across the whole of society.  The need for greater food security outside of wartime has been highlighted during the Covid 19 pandemic and some supply disruption seen in the Brexit process.    Access to outdoor leisure space has become important again with modern housing having much smaller gardens and many people in rented property having no gardens at all. Awareness of Climate Change issues and the need to reduce food miles where the average distance food travels to get to our tables at 2500 miles is something allotments can play an obvious role in addressing.

In many ways the Dig for Victory campaign has an unwritten modern version where we are digging for victory over a whole range of problems that allotment growing could play a part in fixing. 

The modern allotment is now much more diverse showing much better representation of women gardeners and a wider social mix than the stereotype of white working class, older male. People from different ethnic backgrounds have brought something special to allotments with distinctive approaches to growing and have added to the sharing of knowledge through the common language of food.

Allotments in Bassetlaw have been as much a part of this overall history as anywhere else in England and shared the same challenges and opportunities.   Having a clear plan identified in an allotment strategy will help to ensure that the next chapter of allotment history in Bassetlaw is a positive one!

Allotments in Bassetlaw

This section of the Strategy will look at allotments through five distinct elements:

  • The factual information about allotment provision in Bassetlaw.
  • The abridged consultant report from Visits to Ten Representative Allotment Sites
  • Past and present delivery leading to ideas for improvements
  • Allotment provision and health and wellbeing/the wider agenda.
  • Information regarding resources/administration that provides the service.

Taking what has been learned from delivering the 2010 – 2015 Allotment Strategy, the focus of this section will be to highlight important aspects that remain ongoing to create an updated action plan. These will be added to with suggestions based on insights gained through consultant observations, feedback from site visits and the resulting report.

Factual Information

This section of the document provides baseline information about the District, the present level of allotment provision, profile of users and standards for allotment provision taking account of the Policy Planning Guidance 17 audit and commissioned report produced by Knight, Kavanagh & Page (KKP) in 2009. (Baseline information and KKP/PPG17 standards and value assessment information from the previous strategy document are included in Appendix 2 to enable comparisons). 

Bassetlaw District covers an area of 63,688 hectares with a population of 117,400 (ONS 2019 estimate) and has 49,800 households (2.35 people per household).

The two main conurbations are Retford and Worksop with populations of 21,314 and 43,613 respectively. All Bassetlaw District Council owned allotments are located in these towns.  (Appendix 4 shows locations of allotments in Retford and Worksop)

Outside of Retford and Worksop, allotments are provided by town and parish councils.

In Retford the Council has 12 allotment sites, providing 194.5 plots over an area of 5.89 hectares. Of these 12 sites 1 is statutory, 11 temporary.

In Worksop there are 11 sites, providing 407 plots over an area of 11.98 hectares. Of these 11 sites 7 are statutory, 4 temporary.

The KKP/PPG17 recommended allotment size for the District is the standard 250 square metres. They further recommend that all residents should be within 10 minutes walk from good quality allotment provision.

Worksop traditionally holds the larger sites with larger individual plot sizes.  Demand in Worksop is variable with waiting lists on some sites and high numbers of vacant plots on others. Demand for allotments in Retford is very high where all sites except one have waiting lists.   

The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) recommended level of allotment provision is 20 plots per 2000 households. This assumes 2 people per household and therefore equates to 10 plots per 1000 people. The actual local number of people in Bassetlaw households of 2.35 will be used when calculating additional allotments needed.

Based on the current level of District Council owned allotments in the population centres where they are found, the number of plots provided is around the NSALG recommendation.

The combined waiting list total of 173 in October 2021 shows that the supply of Council owned allotments in Retford* and some parts of Worksop is not meeting demand.

*It must be highlighted that no account is being made of the high level of private allotment provision in Retford.

In order to meet demand within the KKP/PPG17 recommended standards the district council will need to provide an additional 2.52 hectares in Retford and 3.68 hectares in Worksop of allotment land by 2026.  Those figures are based on assessing the total unmet demand and allows for a potential 10% increase in the popularity of allotments.

The two types of allotment under Council ownership fall under the following legislation:

Statutory:  These are sites, which have been acquired by the authority for the purpose of being allotment gardens.  If statutory allotment land is considered to be surplus to requirements it cannot be sold without the consent of the Secretary of State under section 8 of the 1925 Act. If plot holders are displaced by that action then adequate provision must be made for them, unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that such provision is unnecessary or not reasonably practical.

Revenue obtained from the sale or exchange of statutory allotment land must be spent on discharging debts associated with the acquisition of allotment land, acquiring new land for use as allotments or improving the existing stock of allotments. Only the surplus may be used for other purposes (section 32 of the 1908 Act).

Temporary:  These have been acquired for other purposes and are used as allotments in the interim. Unlike statutory allotments, temporary ones are not protected by allotments legislation. Although some temporary sites have been used for allotments for many years and the Government Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry into the ‘Future for Allotments’ report recommended that land which has been in continuous use as allotments for over 30 years should be designated as ‘statutory’ if possible.

There are no requirements on the authority to exact a ‘full and fair rent’. There is also provision in Section 10 of the 1950 Act for payment of reduced rent in special circumstances which might include retired, elderly, unemployed, or disabled tenants or tenants of long standing, or any other circumstances which the authority thinks fit.

Under section 1(1)(a) of the 1922 Act tenancies of allotment gardens can be terminated by giving twelve months’ or more notice to quit. This must expire on or before 6 April, on or after 29 September in any year, otherwise it will be invalid.

Statutory allotments are on land that is specifically allocated for allotment gardening. This land cannot be disposed of without the Secretary of State’s permission, which will only be given if it can be shown that the land is surplus to needs. This requires a rigorous process to be adhered to which shows that the authority has made every effort to attract new gardeners (just to show that there is no waiting list will not be adequate). Allotment holders on statutory allotments are entitled to compensation if they have to leave their plots.

Although compensation will have to be offered to gardeners on temporary allotments there is not such a rigorous process and the Secretary of State’s does not have to be involved in their disposal.

Reference No:

The main issues raised:

1.1

11 out of 12 sites in Retford are classified as temporary and 5 out of 11 in Worksop are classified as temporary.

The review process is ongoing from the previous strategy document with no a clear indication of timescales to enact the change of classifications to statutory for already identified suitable sites.

1.2

There is an obvious need to understand more about private allotment provision in Retford and whether there are possibilities to work in complimentary ways and cooperate. 

The following tables show details of all the District Council owned sites in Retford.

Retford

Name of site

Size of site (hectares)

Plot coverage area(m²)

No of plots

Occupancy No  

%

Waiting list

Status

Albert Road

0.28

2,277

11

10       

90%

23

T

Trinity Road

0.29

2,564

17

17     

100%

4

T

Milnercroft

0.24

2,323

8

8       

100%

11

T

Milnercroft (Enclosed)

0.49

Site is not actively being used for allotments.

T

Rufford Avenue

1.32

12,404

49

49    

100%

14

T

Whinney Moor Lane

0.18

1,785

8

8      

100%

14

T

Grove Road

0.68

6,312

24

23.5   

98%

14

S

Strawberry Road

0.60

5,163

19

18.5   

97%

10

T

Newtown

0.19

1,568

11

10      

90%

5

T

Manvers Road

0.38

3,124

13

13    

100%

7

T

Denman

0.64

5,566

16.5

16.5 

100%

5

T

Leafield

0.60

5,890

18

18    

100%

18

T

Overall

5.89ha

48,976m²

194.5

191.5 

98%

125

S:Statutory T:Temporary

 

Worksop

Name of Site

Size of site (hectares)

Plot coverage area (m²)

No of plots

Occupancy No       

%

Waiting List

Status

Claylands Avenue

3.23

30,122

132

132  

100%

5

S

Spur Crescent

0.76

5,954

39

25     

64%

0

T

Stubbing Lane 1

1.17

11,693

24

20      

83%

3

S

Stubbing Lane 2

1.70

16,067

67

62      

93%

0

S

Stubbing Lane 3

1.67

15,773

35

19      

54%

0

S

Gateford Road

0.82

7,635

30

29     

97%

15

S

Valley Rd

0.27

2,641

10

10    

100%

6

S

Keats Cres.

0.30

1,713

8.5

8.5   

100%

13

T

Bracebridge Avenue

0.16

1,359

5

5      

100%

4

T

Bracebridge

0.12

887

5

5      

100%

4

T

Cheapside

1.78

16,122

51.5

36      

70%

0

T

Overall

11.98ha

109,966m²

407

367    

90%

48

S:Statutory T:Temporary

 

OVERALL COMBINED TOTALS

17.87ha

158,942m²

601.5

558.5 

93%

173

 

Total number of full plots

 

485

Total number of half plots

 

233

Total number of tenants

501

The present tenant profile for allotment gardeners on Bassetlaw District Council sites:

Age Range

Male

Female

Total

18 -29

4

5

9

30 - 39

22

19

41

40 – 49

37

20

57

50 – 59

77

39

116

60 – 69

97

38

135

70 – 79

76

16

92

80 and over

25

4

29

Not stated

 

 

22

Overall

338

141

501

 

Summary in October 2021:

The present number of tenants is 501.

The outcome of this profile is that 70% of gardeners are male (30% women)

The average age of gardeners is between 50 and 60 years of age.

The average plot size is 264m2

Reference No:

The main issues raised:

2.1

The Milnercroft enclosed site in Retford is not actively being used for allotments and its future needs to be decided.

2.2

To identify a suitable venue in Worksop to deliver a low cost pilot project to support and train a cohort of new tenants to clear and plant vacant plots on an underused site to help in its regeneration.

2.3

To produce an updated development plan for Spur Crescent based on sustainability.

2.4

To ensure that the Rufford Avenue, Retford site extension is brought into use and fully let within the shortest possible timescale.

2.5

To continue work with the Estates and Planning Department to provide additional allotment sites in Retford and Worksop to meet the future demand already identified.

2.6

To update the asset management report for allotment sites using the principle of investing part of the receipts in new sites and/or upgrading existing sites.

Allotments provision like any other service needs to have benchmarking profiles or key performance indicators (KPI’s) for different areas of delivery.  These indicators can be used to measure whether a service is working well or changes need to be made. 

The following table of monitoring information gathered is already in use and with additional suggestions can provide a simple way to measure tenant turnover/early drop out, condition of plots, age and gender diversity.   This information can be used to help decide whether KPI’s are being met or further work is needed to achieve them. 

Reference No:

The main issues raised:

3.1

To review and update monitoring information related to key performance indicators (KPI’s) for allotments to assess the annual performance.

Overall number of tenants

Number of new tenants (previous 12 months)

Number of community allotment gardens/projects on BDC sites

Percentage of plots in active cultivation and adding value to each site

Percentage of vacant plots

Annual percentage of rents/charges collected

Waiting list number

 

Visits to ten representative allotment sites

Introduction

When planning to update the present allotment strategy with the help of a consultant, it was decided that carrying out site visits would give a far better insight into how allotments are working on the ground than just a desktop study using existing data.  Taking feedback from Site Stewards and some plot holders along with observing first-hand how Bassetlaw’s allotments are working day to day proved this to be the right approach.  The feedback given and direct observation enabled the consultant to see what is working well and where there are shared challenges to overcome.  Note; this is a condensed version, the full report from site visits is shown in Appendix 1.

Methodology

Arrange visits to 10 representative allotment sites (5 in Retford, 5 in Worksop) based on the following characteristics:

  • Large and small sites in each area
  • Fully let sites with waiting lists
  • Sites with low uptake and vacant plots
  • Sites with significant security/crime and other challenges

Site visits mainly took place between June and July 2021 and were often arranged on Saturdays where site stewards may be visiting to work plots or run allotment shops etc

A set of prepared questions were asked only after each site steward had the opportunity to fully introduce the site in their own words, show what works well and what challenges they face.  The job of the consultant was primarily to listen carefully and observe.  In many cases the prepared questions were already fully answered without the consultant referring to the question list. The length of visit was typically between 1 and 2 hours including a tour of each site. Notes were taken and photographs which would later help in remembering the characteristics of each site.

Worksop sites visited

Claylands Avenue - Spur Crescent - Stubbing Meadows 2 – Cheapside – Gateford Road

Retford sites visited

Rufford Avenue - Strawberry Road – Leafield and Denman – Manvers Road – Grove Road

Shared qualities observed 

Most sites have developed a very good community spirit where tenants help each other, share knowledge, surplus crops and plants, support each other and try to work harmoniously.  Plot holders are generally trying to grow and work in environmentally friendly ways and are really innovative in reusing and recycling materials, composting and making best use of resources.  The site stewards themselves are helping their sites run smoothly, reporting maintenance issues, un-worked plots and coordinating self help on site. They work with a light touch, often offering support for tenants facing difficulties working plots through illness etc.

Examples of good practice to share

Every site visited had good examples of positive actions worth sharing.  Two sites will be included as case studies in the strategy document because they are successfully addressing some key challenges and opportunities seen at all sites.

Case Study 1 - Claylands Avenue, Worksop – Externally funded projects

The self-managed allotment site at Claylands Avenue has successfully applied for and secured external funding for a range of projects that have brought benefits to the whole site and beneficiaries from the mental health charity Mind.   Improvements include an accessible raised bed community garden with polytunnel and access ramps from a permanently surfaced parking area. They also received funding for a converted shipping container mess room/cooking space and a high quality modular compost toilet.

Accessible compost toilet

Converted shipping container

The total value of funding from a number of sources was around £35,000 and considering the size, range and quality of improvements, they spent the money extremely wisely.

It is very important to point out that there have been a wide range of other improvements and positive actions carried out by plot holders independently of this major funding. These include hosting school visits, having a community orchard and running an allotment shop to generate income to reinvest in the site. The shop also provides a great value source of gardening essentials for plot holders.

Overall biodiversity values are also very high with plot holders planting wildflowers and installing ponds.  One plot has beehives successfully sited, which brings benefits to pollination of fruit crops on the site.

Feedback from Site Stewards and Tenants

  • My allotment kept me sane through the Covid 19 lockdown
  • We work with our newbie gardeners to make sure they feel safe and can get support through the difficult stage of getting their plot in order... we do it with them not for them
  • Many of our plot holders are retired, allotment gardening keeps people active as they get older
  • The one key thing that makes our allotment site work is community spirit – people helping each other and sharing!
  • Give us the road planings and woodchip and we’ll put our track and pathways in order ourselves
  • The system of getting new tenants onto plots needs speeding up. It just takes too long!
  • I can tell within a week whether a new tenant will make a go of it!
  • We don’t see much evidence of investment from the rent we pay!
  • I think the £1 a week my allotment costs gives me such great value, I get so much out of it!
  • It is hard to explain to people wanting an allotment plot that there is a waiting list when they can see overgrown plots unused on our site.
  • The allotment web pages need to be improved; they should streamline getting new tenants on site much faster. An Allotments App would be good.
  • Having honeybees on our site has improved fruit crops noticeably.
  • Allotments are a haven, somewhere to get away from the pressures of life.
  • Un-worked plots are such a waste. Tenants who pay their rent and then don’t work their plots need dealing with faster... it is such a waste!
  • Many tenants are wasting huge amounts of water and adding to everyone’s costs, allotments should be all about using resources wisely.

Insights gained through the visits

The ten sites visited gave the following insights:

General observations:

  • Relationships with the Parks and Open Spaces Team appeared to be mostly positive and an ‘us and them’ attitude did not come across. There seems to be much more of a partnership approach evident on most sites.
  • Diverse styles of growing from very traditional row planting to growing in blocks and even no dig can co-exist. Inconsiderate tenants leaving tall weeds running to seed seemed to be the main source of conflicts rather than individual styles/methods used.  
  • It was observed that a good gender mix, people from different backgrounds/life experiences and ethnic origins is a positive feature for the success of a site.
  • Security challenges faced on individual sites often reflect wider social issues and patterns of crime in the local area. Seven out of ten sites had no issues whatsoever to report and one town centre site was very heavily impacted by ongoing trespassing and thefts.
  • There is broad recognition that resources are limited for maintenance of sites and there are a wide range of tasks done proactively by stewards and tenants to benefit everyone on most sites.
  • Having a supportive allotment community is especially important early in an allotment tenancy where the learning curve is very daunting. However, even with support, ownership and personal responsibility for the success of their growing experience still has to come from within the individual tenant.

Inactive tenants:

  • Some new tenants are largely inactive from the start of a tenancy; others have never given any significant time commitment to clearing and working their plots.
  • Observations showed Inactive tenants could potentially mean that over 10% of all allotments are in a state of poor cultivation, declining use, or largely unused.
  • Where sites had a number of very overgrown plots it was unclear whether these being ready cleared at the start of tenancy would merely remove an initial obstacle to success but not overcome the longer term obstacles of committing the time needed, maintaining motivation and developing ownership.
  • It is clear that some new tenants would benefit from a phased introduction to growing beginning with smaller ‘taster plots’ so they can establish how allotment growing fits within the time and energy they have available.
  • On smaller sites un-worked plots have a greater negative impact because they represent a larger percentage of overall plots and are far more obvious.
  • It is clear that for some new tenants; access to a community garden structured allotment would suit their needs better and over time could be a stepping stone to an independently worked allotment plot.
  • There needs to be more efficient ways to manage inactive tenants and dramatically speed up the process of re-letting un-worked plots so people on the numerous site waiting lists can begin their tenancies sooner.

Other observations:

  • Care should be taken when suggesting ideas within the allotment strategy that assume site stewards and others already very active in making sure their allotment sites run smoothly will deliver them.
  • Many sites with reasonable access would benefit from having a more accessible plot to keep older tenants involved in growing where they feel no longer physically able to manage a conventional plot. These plots could also include community members with disabilities.
  • Externally funded projects must be sustainable and not be totally reliant on paid staff where funding cuts have rendered these projects inactive on some sites.
  • All externally funded projects work better where funded facilities such as compost toilets and access improvements are planned to bring benefits to the whole site.

Case Study 2 – Leafield & Denman, Retford – Mentoring New Tenants and Sharing Skills:

At the Leafield & Denman site a culture of mentoring and supporting new or ‘newbie’ tenants has evolved to make this a very nurturing and welcoming allotment community. There is also an impressive level of skills sharing where the different backgrounds of tenants creates a pool or network of skills and contacts useful in supporting the whole allotment community.  This way of doing things is not unique and many of the allotment sites visited are clearly places where the allotment communities pull together and support each other greatly.

Red cedar greenhouse

Reusing a red cedar greenhouse glazed with a range of salvaged plastic sheets sourced across the allotment community

What makes this site stand out is that the level of mentoring, sharing and support has become organised as part of the whole site’s ethos.  If a new tenant needs a shed or greenhouse the allotment community helps to find one going free, get it to site and supports installing it.  Other examples include sharing paving slabs and any other materials useful for improving access and growing.

The important thing to note is that their way of helping is ‘doing it with and not for’.  This is essential for newbies to build their own capacity to succeed in growing independently.  Like the Claylands Avenue site, biodiversity values are also very high and growing heritage varieties of vegetables could be seen too.  From a superficial look at the whole site you would think it is just another set of allotments; digging deeper you see that it is definitely a place where people grow too and like many allotments that is an important part of what makes the site truly productive.

Using the insights gained within the updated allotment strategy:

The site visits and insights gained will be combined with the Parks and Open Spaces Team’s learning and evaluations of actions delivered within the previous allotment strategy. This will be used to develop better ways of directing resources, targeting promotion and working as partners with tenants and agencies in Bassetlaw that actively recognise the community, environmental and health value of allotments.

Reference No.

Main issues raised:

4.1

Managing inactive tenants to prevent plots being held up in uncultivated limbo.

 

4.2

Externally funded projects should benefit whole sites/need to have more scrutiny over sustainability if they become inactive.

 

4.3

Plot sizes offered should better match the capacity of tenants to successfully cultivate them with the potential of trialling multi use/starter plots.

 

4.4

A working ‘with and not for’ culture of partnership between landlord and tenant should be further developed.

 

4.5

Security issues remain a persistent problem on some sites.

"Acknowledgements: Special thanks are due to all of the site stewards who generously gave up their time to give tours of their sites and share their insights and experiences of involvement in keeping the allotments of Bassetlaw growing and productive!"

Past and present leading to ideas for improvements

The main focus of learning from both the past and present has to be on sustainability. This means delivering actions leading to enduring improvements that makes allotment provision work better for present and future gardeners. Where resources are limited, priority must be given to actions leading to permanent benefits rather than high profile actions with a short life span.

Plot sizes

Both the NSALG and the KKP/PPG17 standards for plot sizes are based on 250 square metres full plots.  This is the suggested standard for working out how much more land is required to reduce waiting lists and for meeting future needs.  There is no legal standard for the minimum size of an allotment plot offered, only an upper limit on size.   

There is continuing demand for smaller half plots from new tenants and the actual levels of cultivation observed on many existing full plots could be contained in a smaller space.  There is also a need for smaller plots where existing tenants are finding full plots too physically demanding and need to downsize.

Feedback from site stewards shows that for some prospective tenants, even half plots are considered too large.  There appears to be a need for greater flexibility.

Disadvantages from having smaller plots include; creating a greater administration burden, more cropping area needing to be sacrificed for paths, more individuals needing water and tenants outgrowing their plots as their experience levels rise. Some local authorities that offer only half plots have found they can disadvantage experienced gardeners who could easily make a success of a full plot.

The suggested way forward is to strongly promote taking up half plots for inexperienced gardeners while retaining a core percentage of full plots for those who will work them well.

Multi use accessible plots

There appears to be a real need for at least one multi use accessible plot on many larger sites with pre-existing reasonable access into the site. These could be used to meet a range of needs including:

  • Disabled gardeners needing accessible growing opportunities.
  • Experienced gardeners wanting to stay involved in growing where they can no longer physically manage to run their own plot.
  • The need to pass on the knowledge of experienced gardeners to new tenants.
  • Taster experience of growing for novice gardeners to decide whether they want to progress to their own independently worked plots.

These would effectively be low key ‘community allotments’ designed to include both new and long established gardeners in a very flexible way of growing that is designed to benefit entire allotment sites.  While challenging to establish and administer, the different ways to include people and their role in helping encourage and filter interest in growing before independently worked plots are taken up, could bring long term savings of time and resources dealing with un-worked plots.  The considerable community values created by this type of plot could make them fairly easy to fund through an external funding source.

Existing community projects and sustainability

Many existing community allotment projects have been badly affected by funding cuts, especially those with paid staff involved in their running.  The effects of the Covid 19 pandemic have also impacted attendances on projects.   Site visits showed that numerous externally funded community projects have slowed or in worst cases become inactive. 

There is a clear need to liaise with representatives from various projects to work out how they can become active again, what support is needed and what could be done to get them on a more sustainable footing.

Any new externally funded projects hosted on Council owned allotment sites must have a sustainability plan that includes future uses should they become inactive. This needs to be a condition of consent for them being hosted.

The Council led initiative to spray, clear and re-open the once derelict Spur Crescent site was only a partial success despite initially being fully occupied. The site is now only partly cultivated and hosts a community project which shares the difficulties faced by many others in Bassetlaw. The consultant site visit showed there are still many challenges to overcome including how to design in sustainability for any new improvement initiatives.

There appears to be a real need to take a much more ‘grass roots, self generated’ basis for new community projects based on active participation rather than a ‘build it and they will come’ approach. The basis upon which a project starts is likely to set the pattern for its ongoing development. In the funding landscape of 2021 ongoing, low key projects with high community ownership are ultimately more sustainable than high cost projects kept alive through ongoing funding.

Promoting allotments, promoting growing

The ongoing need to promote involvement in growing on allotments should also include promoting growing in a range of other places too. This includes at home, in school grounds and other community places/projects where it can be achieved.  People working their own independent allotment plots is not the sole measure of success in food growing.  Where prospective tenants have gained some experience of growing before taking on their own plot, they are less likely to find themselves overwhelmed by the steep learning curve.

When promoting allotments, information needs to be given beyond just the potential benefits. Prospective tenants need to see information in advance on roughly how many hours per week are needed to successfully work plots of different sizes. They can use this information to decide whether they genuinely have the time and energy to independently and successfully work an allotment plot. 

The patterns of early drop out and low cultivation levels of newly let plots suggests that not having the time and energy to work a plot may be the largest barrier to success that compounds the many other barriers identified through prior consultation and surveys.

The promotion of allotment gardening needs to focus on encouraging participation on underused sites in Worksop as promotion is not necessarily needed in areas where demand is already outstripping supply.  A substantial amount of work has been undertaken to clearly identify the need for allotments and how to promote them but this has not translated into sustained demand and participation in disadvantaged areas with low allotment take up.

The main consultant observation through site visits was that for some prospective and even some existing allotment tenants, access to a community garden structured allotment may better suit their needs.  It was further identified that there is a need for a stepping stones approach where some new tenants could try out growing on ‘starter plots’ to find out if progressing to a half or full allotment plot would suit available time and energy, meet their needs and be enjoyable enough to make it a sustainable lifestyle choice.

Despite consultation data showing that 42% of schools may be interested in allotment gardening, school involvement in allotments is low. Involvement appears to be mainly through educational visits, after school clubs and some alternative curriculum work with older students outside of mainstream settings. The majority of schools consulted have growing opportunities hosted in their own grounds because this is ultimately their most sustainable way to include growing within their curriculum or as an enrichment activity.

Reference No.

Main issues raised 

5.1

Guidance to prospective tenants is needed over the likely number of hours needed to work different sized allotment plots taking account of seasons and plot condition when let. This will help prospective tenants decide whether an allotment could fit within the time and energy they have available and reduce early drop out.

5.2

An ‘open door’ welcome to school visits should be maintained and opportunities to share knowledge of how to grow in their own grounds should be exploited. Investigate possible support for any existing school projects.

5.3

Invite participation in a pilot project to install multi use accessible plots. Other small scale grass roots ‘self starter projects’ on allotments should be encouraged and supported. They must be generated on active demand, participation and ownership rather than high cost infrastructure.  

5.4

Explore the potential for a low cost, partner funded pilot growing course to train and establish a cohort of potential tenants on an underused Worksop allotment site.   The aim would be to clear and plant plots and kick start a more communal and supportive style of growing.

5.5

Identify signposting opportunities to community growing projects both on Council owned allotments and others such as the Oasis Community Garden in Worksop.

5.6

Liaising with representatives of various community projects on Council allotments needs to take place to establish whether they are active, if they need support and how growing can be taken forward/resumed.

 

Allotments, health and wellbeing and the wider agenda

The true social value of allotments needs to be better understood beyond the people managing them and the allotment tenants themselves. This greater understanding will help ensure that allotments are seen as a positive way for delivering local and national initiatives linked to community cohesion, health and wellbeing, environmental values and the combination of benefits they bring.

The contribution of allotments to health and wellbeing is huge. This includes both physical and mental health benefits.  The physical benefits come from outdoor exercise cultivating plots, all ages keeping active instead of sedentary lifestyles and improved diet through consuming a wide variety of freshly grown fruit and vegetables.  Plot holders are burning calories to grow healthy calories! Mental health benefits come from having a quiet place to get away from the hectic pace of modern life, social benefits from being part of a supportive allotment community and having a special place to grow as a person, express identity and individual creativity.

Feedback from tenants proves that working an allotment contributes to personal health and wellbeing in ways people can really feel and put into words.  It is important to highlight that the physical and mental health benefits brought to all plot holders are incredibly valuable regardless of background, income or area in which they live. 

There is a real and current public health emergency of diet related health inequalities and illnesses brought on through obesity, inactive lifestyles and lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in daily diet. It is understood more clearly now that lack of knowledge on its own is not the main problem but rather finding ways to change behaviour.  An ongoing challenge for allotments is how to become a part of positive behaviour change and get the most disadvantaged and hardest to reach community members involved in allotment growing.  Suggestions for much more grass roots based approaches are included in this strategy document.

The range of local, regional and national initiatives which allotment gardening can help in delivering includes:

  • Bassetlaw Local Plan 2020 -2037 (Publication Version August 2021)
  • Health Scrutiny Select Panel – Review of Obesity (and subsequent recommendations)
  • Regional initiatives:
  • Nottinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018 - 2022
  • Nottinghamshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan
  • Nottinghamshire County Council ‘Planning Contribution Strategy 2008’ (updated 2010)
  • National initiatives:
  • Change4Life and Cook4Life
  • National Food Strategy, Independent Review (2021)
  • SUSTAIN – Food Poverty Action Plans and Sustainable Food Places initiatives

Performance Indicators

Bassetlaw District Council has adopted a range of national indicators, which are monitored annually. Allotments can help deliver in the following areas:

PI

Definition

NI 1

% of people who believe people from different backgrounds get on well together in their local area

NI 5

Overall/general satisfaction with local area

NI 6

Participation in regular volunteering

NI 119

Self-reported measure of overall people’s overall health and wellbeing

NI 138

Satisfaction of people over 65 with both home and neighbourhood

 

Reference No:

The main issues raised:

6.1

To ensure that the cross cutting themes and Performance Indicators that allotments gardening can assist in delivering continue to be properly promoted and taken account of:

To ensure that the allotment strategy is adopted by Bassetlaw District Council.

To ensure that the allotment strategy fits into the Local Strategic Partnership structure

Presentation to Bassetlaw Local Strategic Partnership

6.2

To ensure that the social return on investment (SROI) value of allotments is clearly recognised and shared with all partners.  

6.3

To attract funding for allotment projects that achieves outcomes within the core delivery of various partners both within and outside of the Council.

6.4

To make changes as necessary to monitoring and evaluation to help in recording the benefits of allotment gardening

 

Information regarding resources/administration that provides the service

In 2020/2021 the budget for operating the service was £30,100, which is made up of:

 

Maintenance and repairs of allocated sites

6,000

 

Water supply

5,000

Central support

29,000

Depreciation

6100

46,100

Customer and Client Receipts: Sundry Fees & Charges

 

500

 

Rents

15500

16,000

Overall budget

 

30,100

 

In addition to the above budget, the service also incurs indirect costs through the internal recharge of schedule maintenance works and clearance works undertaken by its own operational staff.  The annual recharge amount varies on the extent of works involved across the sites. It equates on average to a cost of £4,861 per annum.

It is important to recognise these indirect costs to provide a complete reflection of the overall costs incurred by the allotment service as a whole. 

Currently (2021) BDC charges 13.2 pence per square metre because plots sizes differ considerably on and between sites. There is no charge for registered charity groups (except for water charges). Consultant research shows BDC charges are still comparable to neighbouring authorities based upon the recommended standard full plot size of 250 square metres. This equates to a charge of £33.00 (plus water) or £34.84 (plus water) for the average full plot size of 264 square metres within the Council’s provision.

If the actual cost of providing the service was to be levied it would mean that a full plot rent would cost approximately £82.29 (excluding water) based on 558.5 plots. This equates to a subsidy per full allotment plot of approximately £47.45

The results of consultant site visits showed that in only 2 out of 10 sites there was evidence of unrealistic expectations over the levels of maintenance and investment possible within available resources. In the majority of visits, the types of maintenance issues raised i.e. renewing small sections of fencing, supplying notice boards, supplying planings and woodchip so tenants could maintain tracks, paths etc. did not appear to be prohibitive.

High cost improvements that would benefit entire sites such as good quality compost toilets, accessible plots etc. could be more realistically funded where allotment tenants form into constituted community groups/associations to apply to external funding sources. 

Reference No:

The main issues raised:

7.1

The present level/ percentage of rent subsidy should be set as the maximum threshold and subject to review annually.

7.2

To encourage the good levels of tenant participation in ‘self help’ seen at many allotment sites, across all provision as a means of protecting rent subsidy. Include waste reduction, (especially mixed waste) within this.

7.3

To consider more effective ways of using the available budgets e.g. tenant roles in management of sites:  Participation -self help, promoting self-management.

7.4

To encourage and support allotment tenant groups to organise, become constituted and apply to external funding sources such as Big Lottery, Awards for All to fund some high cost improvements.

 

General administration

The administration of allotments remains predominantly the responsibility of one member of staff in the Parks Section and the work revolves around the following elements:

General enquiries:  This is mainly requests for information regarding prices, size of plots, availability and location of the sites.

Dealing with complaints:  The biggest cause of complaints remains as being uncultivated plots, delays caused through following the due process required to deal with them and make them available to re-let. Other causes of complaints are; regular maintenance not being completed on time, security on sites, theft of goods and produce, tenant disputes, removal of waste, cockerels and vermin issues.

Raising of annual invoices:  This includes the annual rental charge and a fee for the use of water on each site.

Section 10 of the 1950 Allotment Act states that if the rent exceeds

£1.25 then it is not permissible to provide for more than one quarter rent to be payable in advance. However, in many other authorities, gardeners now enter into an agreement with allotment authorities whereby the rent is paid in advance.

Administration of allotments

The allotments are administered through a computerised management system called Colony, which was developed in Microsoft Access by MCPC Systems and is used by approximately 55 local authorities. 

Manual, paper based plans for allotments have been updated to a GIS based system.  Funding is required for major upgrading to make it compatible with new operating systems and Cloud based data storage. 

Reference No:

The main issues raised:

8.1

Greater resources are needed by the Parks and Open Spaces team to enable them to work more proactively and efficiently in managing the allotment service. The most obvious need is for a full time Allotments Officer.

8.2

Increase resources to enable quarterly site visits for condition assessments rather than ‘reactive’ visits only.

8.3

Use increased resources to speed up action to evict inactive tenants, free up unused plots and reduce waiting lists.

8.4

To include a ‘no blame’ clause within the new tenant starter pack asking tenants who realise that working an allotment will not work for them to voluntarily give it up as a positive action to help make it available for re-letting sooner.

8.5

Introduce 3 months of closer monitoring for new tenants with an expectation of 25% cultivation.

8.6

Introduce visible plot numbering across all sites to speed up identification of problem plots during site visits.

8.7

To include information on the allotment web pages outlining the expected hours needed per week to work half or full plots to help prospective tenants understand in advance the time commitment they are taking on.

8.8

Funding is needed to upgrade the GIS system for use on new operating systems and for Cloud based data storage.

8.9

Introduce hand held computer system for site inspections (tablet etc. linked to upgrade in 8.8) 

 

Self-management of allotment sites

The Government’s report on The Future of Allotments stated ‘there is little doubt that, when successfully implemented, self-management schemes ensure greater control of a site by allotment holders and tend to work to the benefit of the site’.

Devolved management schemes can benefit both local authorities and the allotment gardeners. A reduced burden of administration and maintenance responsibilities can bring savings to the Council but also offer an opportunity for engaging with the local community. For plot holder’s self-management can bring more responsive site management, a sense of pride in site improvements and an opportunity for volunteers to bring their skills, expertise and to access external funding that would otherwise not be available.

There are various degrees of self-management, which can be categorised as follows:

Dependence – neither the plot holders nor association play any practical part in site management, beyond exchange of information, perhaps through a site representative.

Participation – plots holders informally accept responsibility for minor maintenance works, and some mechanism may exist (such as an allotment forum) for the views of plot holders or site representatives to be canvassed on capital expenditure and repairs.

Delegation – a properly constituted allotment association accepts formal responsibilities for a range of duties under licence for the local authority, under financial arrangements that release a proportion of rental income for this purpose, the association may arrange tenancies, collect rents and carry out regular maintenance duties but leave the local authority to carry out repairs, pay for overheads such as water, and undertake all legal formalities.

Semi-autonomy- the allotment association leases the site from the council, arranges tenancy agreements and reinvests revenue (which it manages) on maintenance, repairs and capital items. The council retains the right to review the lease at periodic intervals and has defined oversight and strategic functions. Associations, which have implemented fully accountable schemes for devolved management, straddle the boundary between the allotment and community gardening movements.

The current situation

Only the Claylands Avenue site in Worksop is currently self-managed under a ‘delegation’ model.  The consultant site visit to the site showed that self-management is working well and a real sense of pride exists in the many achievements made since becoming self-managed.

Many other sites are already operating under an informal ‘participation’ model where site stewards and tenants are active in routine maintenance of shared spaces along with their existing actions to create supportive allotment communities that welcome new tenants.  

If more sites operated on a full ‘dependence’ model it would make the whole allotment service unsustainable within the limits of funding available and current levels of rent subsidy.

Reference No.

The main issue raised: 

9.1

The need to promote self-management and encourage greater self-help under the ‘participation’ model.

 

Environmental Actions – Climate Change and Biodiversity

The whole area of environmental actions can be encompassed under the headings of Climate Change and biodiversity obligations. These can link to the Local Development Framework and policy aims and objectives within the Bassetlaw Local Plan (Draft).

Climate Change

Climate Change brought about by human activity and the greenhouse gasses created such as carbon dioxide and methane is now affecting everyone through negative changes to weather patterns. We are seeing more extremes in terms of shifting seasons, heavier rainfall, flooding and heat waves. In the UK we are starting to experience some of the extreme effects seen in other parts of the world. At a local level in Bassetlaw this has been most noticeable through recent localised flooding events. 

The way land is used on allotments can make an increasingly positive contribution to the District’s Climate Change Strategy to reduce emissions, use resources with more thought and care and live more sustainably. We need to do everything possible to make a positive contribution where we are.  The benefits of reducing the impact of Climate Change includes positive outcomes for today’s generations and just as importantly for future generations too.

Reduce; reuse, repair and recycle are all central values for many allotment holders. Where these values can be strengthened and gaps filled through everyone joining in, allotments could even operate with a largely positive impact on Climate Change.  This can be achieved where we can increase composting, improve carbon storage in soil through better cultivation, conserving water, improving wildlife values and dramatically reducing difficult to recycle mixed waste leaving sites.

water butt

Encouraging a culture of water saving instead of being wasteful

It is very important that Climate Change is included within the allotment Strategy because the partnership between plot holders and the District Council in common with every other service must now find ways to genuinely make a positive contribution.    The challenges with Climate Change are huge but so are the opportunities to make a difference!

The table below contains issues that in some areas overlap with biodiversity.

Reference No.

Main issues raised:

10.1

Set the KKP/PPG17 standard of quality allotment provision to be no more than 10 minutes walk away as an aspiration to achieve. Link to reducing car use and potential to cut food miles to zero.

 

10.2

Sharing good practice between allotment sites for efficient composting methods and the development of whole site positive approaches used. Include innovative ways to deal with perennial weed roots to reduce dumping on plots and future cost liabilities as mixed waste.

 

10.3

Include latest best practice ideas for composting within allotment starter pack.

10.4

Reinforce the need to develop a ‘whole site’ culture of personal responsibility for waste generated by each tenant. 

 

10.5

Publicise the cost per tonne including Landfill Tax of mixed and ‘active’ waste to underline the value of tenants taking their own sorted waste as it is generated to Recycling Centres for recycling or safe disposal.

 

10.6

Share latest advice on best practice cultivation methods to improve soil carbon storage across all sites.

 

10.7

Identify problem allotment plots (shaded, damp or otherwise problematic) for piloting hazel coppice to produce bean and pea supports with low environmental impact/carbon neutral.

 

10.8

Encourage the planting of community orchards using local/regional varieties of fruit.

 

10.9

Continue to promote organic cultivation methods and reduced reliance on chemical fertilisers and sprays

 

10.10

Work towards developing methods of auditing the amount of carbon held in allotment sites and their potential to reduce or eliminate the carbon footprint of growing food on allotments and contribute to district targets.

 

10.11

Encourage a culture of conserving water to reduce costs to tenants and environmental benefits along with water harvesting from buildings and water saving cultivation methods.

 

Biodiversity

Biodiversity means the variety of all living things. In the case of allotments biodiversity also includes the genetic variety in the crops we grow and is very important where heritage varieties are grown and kept going for future generations through seed saving.  Generally speaking, the more living things in an area of land the better and allotments are nearly always a great place for biodiversity.

Allotments are important habitats for many plants, animals and insects because they have a wide variety of places to grow, live and feed.  The way plot holders intentionally work to improve wildlife values by including flowers alongside crops and setting aside places for nature can make allotment sites an oasis within built up areas or when compared to intensively managed farmland surrounding Retford and Worksop.

The move towards organic techniques with reduced use of pesticides and other chemicals, and working with rather than against nature makes allotments a very special place. They prove that the needs of people and wildlife can be met together. The recent introduction of bee keeping on allotment sites in Bassetlaw has been very positive and the many allotment sites is also important for our bumble bees and the hundreds of species of solitary bees/ These all need more bee friendly habitats than the ones found within the increasingly low maintenance gardens many people have at home. The challenge now is to keep improving and find ways to measure the contribution of allotments within the District.

Reference No.

Main issues raised:

11.1

The need remains for the production of a full biodiversity audit and Biodiversity Action Plan linked to District strategies.

11.2

To publicise existing good practice and work with specialist partners to provide information and advice on how gardeners can garden in a more environmentally friendly way and how the sites can encourage wildlife.

11.3

Use existing publications such as English Nature’s Wildlife On Allotments as a guide to share with tenants.

11.4

Encourage growing wildflower meadows beneath community orchards.

11.5

Encourage growing and seed saving of heritage vegetables to conserve endangered varieties and retain crop biodiversity for future generations.

11.6

Support hedgerow management and planting with native tree and shrub varieties to conserve important allotment wildlife features.

11.7

Encourage citizen science among tenants - bird and butterfly counts etc.

11.8

Evaluate the introduction of bee keeping to sites/expanding by demand.

11.9

Link all work to improve biodiversity on allotments with district wide ‘Greening Bassetlaw’ strategies and initiatives.

 

Mission Statement

Bassetlaw District Council will encourage residents in Retford and Worksop to gain the many benefits of allotment gardening by providing a stock of quality allotment plots. These will be managed sustainably to ensure they can meet the ongoing needs of these communities and encourage allotment gardening throughout the District.

8.1 Aims:

Aim 1: To ensure there is a sufficient allocated stock to meet the present and future demands.

Aim 2: To promote allotment gardens to all sectors of the community.

Aim 3: To provide a well administered service.

Aim 4: To provide adequate resources for a resilient and sustainable service.

Aim 5: To address climate change and promote biodiversity.

8.2: Objectives:

  • Continually monitoring the demand and supply of allotment plots.
  • To provide an adequate stock of allotment plots to meet present and future demands with greater flexibility of plot sizes available.
  • To promote the benefits of allotment gardening and remove barriers to participation allowing the allotment community to better reflect the diversity of Bassetlaw District.
  • To carry out targeted promotion of allotment gardening in areas of Worksop with underused sites and initiatives to improve take up.
  • To directly promote involvement in community allotment gardens/plots as an option to enable wider involvement in growing.
  • Offer support and guidance to individual allotment sites to help secure external funding for high cost improvements such as compost toilets.
  • To support the development of multi-use accessible plots created to meet the specific needs of individual sites.
  • Listening to the concerns and suggestions of tenants and site stewards to bring about improvements.
  • To improve administration and management of allotments encouraging tenant participation and further self-management of sites.
  • Ensure that all relevant legislation is adhered to and following tenancy rules with self-policing and enforcement brings benefits to entire allotment sites.
  • To maximize the environmental benefits of allotments in terms of Climate Change and biodiversity and work effectively with tenants and other partners.

Action Plan

Aim 1: To ensure there is a sufficient allocated stock to meet the present and future demands.

Objectives:

  • Continually monitoring the demand and supply of allotment plots.
  • To provide an adequate stock of allotment plots to meet present and future demands with greater flexibility of plot sizes available.
 

Issue Reference:

Action:

4.1, 4.4, 5.1, 8.4

1.1 Coordinate improvements to management and administration to reduce wasted capacity on existing allotment stock and include monitoring for the levels of acceptable to good cultivation.

2.4

1.2 Deliver the shortest possible timescale for bringing the Rufford Avenue, Retford site extension into fully let use.

2.1

1.3 The Milnercroft enclosed site in Retford to be considered as a potential site allocation for affordable housing in the emerging Bassetlaw Local Plan.

1.1

1.4 Complete the review process of allotment statuses from the previous strategy document with a clear indication of timescales to enact the change of classifications from temporary to statutory for already identified suitable sites.

1.2

1.5 Research private allotment provision in Retford to find out whether there are possibilities to work in complimentary ways and cooperate. 

5.5, 5.6

1.6 Identify all community based growing/allotment projects (including non BDC hosted) to find to find the most complimentary ways of working and supporting including opportunities for signposting.

2.2, 2.3

1.7 Deliver carefully targeted initiatives to improve allotment take up in under used sites in Worksop with an emphasis on sustainable results.

4.3, 8.7

1.8 Continue to offer half plots and encourage downsizing where tenants are finding cultivating full plots too demanding. Plot sizes offered should better match the capacity of tenants to successfully cultivate them.  Invite participation in trialling multi use/starter plots.

2.5

1.9 To continue work with the Estates and Planning Department to provide additional allotment sites in Retford and Worksop to meet the future demand already identified. Continue to include allotment provision as a priority within Section 106 developer agreements.

2.6

1.10 To update the asset management report for allotment sites using the principle of investing part of the receipts in new sites and/or upgrading existing sites.

 

 

Aim 2: To promote allotment gardens to all sectors of the community.

Objectives:

  • To promote the benefits of allotment gardening and remove barriers to participation allowing the allotment community to better reflect the diversity of Bassetlaw District.
  • To carry out targeted promotion of allotment gardening in areas of Worksop with underused sites and initiatives to improve take up.
  • To directly promote involvement in community allotment gardens/plots as an option to enable wider involvement in growing.
  • To support the development of multi-use accessible plots created to meet the specific needs of individual sites.

Issue Reference:

Action:

5.5

2.1 Promote growing in all suitable places within Bassetlaw in addition to allotments. This can include at home, in school grounds and community/other spaces. Independently worked allotments should not be the sole measure of success in food growing within the District.

2.2, 6.2, 6.3

2.2 To identify a suitable venue in Worksop to deliver a partner funded low cost pilot project to support and train a cohort of new tenants. The aim would be to clear and plant some vacant plots on an underused site to help in its regeneration and better include those who can benefit most from allotment gardening but are difficult to engage and retain.

2.3, 6.2, 6.3

2.3 Produce an updated development plan for the partly let Spur Crescent site and explore possibilities for partner funding with an emphasis on engaging and retaining tenants for long term sustainability/enduring results.

4.1, 5.1

2.4 Develop specific guidance in advance to prospective tenants over the likely number of hours needed to work different sized allotment plots taking account of seasons and plot condition when let in promotion. This will help prospective tenants decide whether an allotment could fit within the time and energy they have available and reduce early drop out.

4.4

2.5 All promotion should encourage a working ‘with and not for’ culture of partnership between landlord/tenant and a responsibility to make a positive contribution to the overall site and allotment community where a plot is rented.

5.2

2.6 Promote school visits and an ‘open door welcome’ to share knowledge and encourage growing in school grounds or allotments when this is feasible/sustainable. Explore further opportunities for supporting any existing school projects.

5.3, 6.2, 6.3

2.7 Invite participation in a pilot project to install multi use accessible plots for retaining involvement of tenants no longer physically able to maintain plots, to encourage participation by disabled gardeners and provide starter plots.  Promote once suitable sites are identified.

5.3 (2), 6.2, 6.3

2.8 Promote small scale, community initiated and led, grass roots ‘self starter projects’ on allotments. Encourage development with arms length support. Projects must be generated on active demand, participation and ownership rather than high cost infrastructure. 

5.6

2.9 Liaise with representatives of various BDC hosted community projects on Council allotments to establish whether they are active, if they need support and how growing can be taken forward/resumed. Follow up with active promotion and signposting to these projects.

5.5

2.10 Promote community allotment growing projects on BDC sites to offer a viable alternative for potential tenants who need a more supportive environment to develop skills and confidence. Involvement would bring all the health benefits of allotment growing. Community allotment growing could be promoted as a stepping stone leading to participants to independently working their own plots with better chances of success.  

5.5

2.11 Identify signposting opportunities to promote community growing projects both on Council owned allotments and others such as the Oasis Community Garden in Worksop.

 

Aim 3: To provide a well administered service.

Objectives:

  • Ensure that all relevant legislation is adhered to and following tenancy rules with self-policing and enforcement brings benefits to entire allotment sites.
  • Listening to the concerns and suggestions of tenants and site stewards to bring about improvements.

Issue reference:

Actions:

6.1, 6.5

3.1 To maintain and raise the profile of allotment gardening ensuring that the cross cutting themes and Performance Indicators that allotments gardening can assist in delivering continue to be properly promoted and taken account of:

To ensure that the allotment strategy as a working document is adopted by Bassetlaw District Council.

To ensure that the allotment strategy fits into the Local Strategic Partnership structure

Presentation to Bassetlaw Local Strategic Partnership

6.2

3.2 To raise the profile of allotments and ensure their social return on investment (SROI) value is clearly recognised and shared with all partners to reinforce the value of funding.   Use existing research from The Wildlife Trusts and similar organisations to create a suggested figure with a long term aspiration of measuring SROI for the District’s allotments.

5.3, 6.2, 6.3

3.3 To actively make the case for additional funding for allotment projects that achieves outcomes within the core delivery of various partners both within and outside of the Council.

4.1

To secure additional funding to allow more efficient management of allotment stock (see Aim 4 actions).  Reinstate quarterly site inspections closer monitoring of new tenants and faster action to evict inactive tenants to reduce poor levels of cultivation reported as a priority concern across many sites.

6.2, 6.4

3.4 To make changes as necessary to monitoring and evaluation to help in recording the benefits of allotment gardening. Include numbers accessing community allotment projects.  To also include acceptable to good levels of cultivation within monitoring to evaluate how effectively the management of allotments addresses tenant concerns over poor cultivation.

4.2

3.5 Introduce better scrutiny over externally funded project sustainability strategies as a condition of hosting. To include agreed future uses should a project become permanently inactive.

4.1, 5.1, 8.7

3.6 Provide information on the allotment web pages outlining the expected hours needed per week to work half or full plots. Ensure prospective tenants understand in advance the time commitment they are taking on and reduce the numbers of people finding allotment gardening a negative experience by being too ‘time poor’ to succeed.

4.1, 5.1, 8.4

3.7 To introduce a ‘no blame’ clause within the new tenant starter pack giving no fault permission for tenants who realise that working an allotment will not work for them to voluntarily give it up sooner as a positive action and make it available for re-letting to reduce waiting lists.

4.1, 6.2, 6.3

Combined with Aim 4, to apply for and use additional funding to proactively manage and administer allotments to monitor and enforce better standards of cultivation, waste liabilities and issues arising from non return of keys at the end of tenancies etc.

4.5

3.8 To actively work with site stewards and tenants on specific sites where security issues remain a persistent problem to identify practical support needed for improvements.  To continue to promote the use of smart water, reporting of allotment crime allowing the police to give crime numbers and raise the priority level of allotment crime.

 

Aim 4: To provide adequate resources for a resilient and sustainable service.

Objectives: 

  • To improve administration and management of allotments encouraging tenant participation and further self-management of sites.
  • Listening to the concerns and suggestions of tenants and site stewards to bring about improvements.

 

Issue reference:

Actions:

7.1

4.1 The present level/ percentage of rent subsidy should be set as the maximum threshold and subject to review annually based on achieving efficiencies.

7.2

4.2 To promote and encourage the good levels of tenant participation in ‘self-help’ seen at many allotment sites, across all provision as a means of protecting rent subsidy. Include waste reduction, (especially mixed waste) within this.

7.3, 9.1

4.3 To promote more effective ways of using the available budgets e.g. tenant roles in management of sites:  More formal recognition and rewarding of participation -self-help and continuing to promote self-management.

6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 8.1

4.4 Request greater resources for the Parks and Open Spaces team to secure a full time Allotments Officer post enabling a much more proactive management of the allotment service. 

4.1, 8.2

4.5 Use greater resources to re-establish quarterly site visits for condition assessments rather than ‘reactive’ visits only.

4.1, 8.3

4.6 Use increased resources to better monitor allotments (condition/cultivation) and free up unused plots/reduce waiting lists by evicting inactive tenants more efficiently.

4.1, 8.5

4.7 Use greater resources to introduce an initial 3 months of closer monitoring for new tenants with an expectation of 25% cultivation.

8.6

4.8 Introduce visible plot numbering across all sites to speed up identification of problem plots during site inspections.

7.4

4.9 To provide information and support to encourage allotment tenant groups to organise, become constituted and apply to external funding sources such as Big Lottery, Awards for All to fund some high cost improvements.

8.8

4.10 Secure funding for an overdue upgrade to the allotment GIS system enabling use on new operating systems and for Cloud based data storage.

8.9

4.11 Secure funding for hand held computers for site inspections replacing inefficient paper based system (tablet etc. linked to upgrade in 8.8) 

Aim 5: To ensure Climate Change and Biodiversity are priorities in Bassetlaw allotments.

Objective: 

  • To maximise the environmental benefits of allotments in terms of Climate Change and biodiversity and work effectively with tenants and other partners.

Issue reference:

Actions: (Climate Change)

10.1

5.1 Encourage reduced car use and greater access to sites by walking and cycling. Set the KKP/PPG17 standard of quality allotment provision to be no more than 10 minutes’ walk away for new sites as an aspiration to achieve. Link the reduction of car use and the potential to cut food miles to near zero for an increased numbers of tenants.

10.2, 10.3

5.2 Publicise and share good practice between allotment sites for efficient composting methods and the development of whole site positive approaches used. Include innovative ways to deal with perennial weed roots to reduce dumping on plots and future cost liabilities as mixed waste. Include latest best practice ideas for composting within allotment starter pack.

10.4, 10.5

5.3 Publicise the cost per tonne including Landfill Tax of mixed and ‘active’ waste to underline the value of tenants taking their own sorted waste as it is generated to Recycling Centres for recycling or safe disposal.

Reinforce the need to develop ‘whole site’ cultures of personal responsibility for waste generated by each tenant to reduce costs and create savings to reinvest. 

10.6

5.4 Promote latest advice on best practice cultivation methods to improve soil carbon storage/soil health across all sites. Monitor uptake of methods linked to 10.10.

10.7, 10.8

5.5 Identify problem allotment plots (shaded, damp or otherwise problematic) for piloting hazel coppice to produce bean and pea supports with low environmental impact/carbon neutral.

Encourage the planting of community orchards using local/regional varieties of fruit.

10.6, 10.9

5.6 Continue to promote organic cultivation methods such as green manures, reduced tillage, mulching etc. and reduced reliance on chemical fertilisers and sprays.

10.6, 10.10

5.7 Work towards developing methods of auditing the amount of carbon held in allotment sites and their potential to reduce or eliminate the carbon footprint of growing food on allotments and contribute to district targets.

Liaise with District Climate Change Officer.

10.11

5.8 Work with site stewards and tenants to promote a culture of conserving water to reduce costs to tenants and achieve environmental benefits including water harvesting from buildings and water saving cultivation methods.

 

Issue reference.

Actions: (Biodiversity)

11.1

5.9 Produce a full biodiversity audit and Biodiversity Action Plan linked to District Green Infrastructure strategies and the Local Plan. Work in combination with the natural interest shown within the allotment community and specialist partners such as Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

11.2

5.10 Publicise and share existing good practice on allotments and work with specialist partners to provide information and advice on how gardeners can cultivate allotments in a more environmentally friendly way and how the sites can encourage wildlife.

11.3

5.11 Use existing publications such as English Nature’s Wildlife On Allotments as a guide to share with tenants. Signposting to specialist partners for advice

11.4

5.12 Encourage growing wildflower meadows beneath community orchards, shared spaces etc. and potential coppice growing areas on problem plots.  Include advice on correct management, cutting times etc.

11.5

5.13 Promote growing and seed saving/sharing of heritage vegetables to conserve endangered varieties and retain crop biodiversity for future generations. Publicise the work of the HDRA and similar organisations as sources of advice and seeds.

11.6

5.14 Support the conservation of all existing hedgerows and improve hedgerow management and planting with native tree and shrub varieties to conserve these important allotment wildlife features.

11.7

5.15 Promote citizen science among tenants - bird and butterfly counts etc. building on existing interest, participation and themed days etc.

11.8

5.16 Evaluate the introduction of bee keeping to sites recording benefits and addressing any issues to resolve possible conflicts. Expand bee keeping by demand where whole site experiences are positive.

11.9

5.17 Link all work to improve biodiversity on allotments with district wide ‘Greening Bassetlaw’ strategies and initiatives including robust monitoring and tenant feedback.

 

References:

NSALG useful policies guidance (external link)

NAS Plot Sizes Policy and NAS Cultivation Standards Policy

Natural England publication – Wildlife on Allotments (external link)

Bassetlaw Local Plan 2020 – 2037 Publication Version August 2021

 

SUSTAIN (external link) - Food Poverty Action Plans

Appendix 1

(Full report)

Bassetlaw Allotments Strategy 2021

Background Research Document

Visits to Ten Representative Sites

Introduction and Methodology

When planning to update the present allotment strategy with the help of a consultant, it was decided that carrying out site visits would give a far better insight into how allotments are working on the ground than just a desktop study using existing data.  Taking feedback from Site Stewards and some plot holders along with observing first-hand how Bassetlaw’s allotments are working day to day proved this to be the right approach.  The feedback given and direct observation enabled the consultant to see what is working well and where there are shared challenges to overcome. 

Methodology

Arrange visits to 10 representative allotment sites (5 in Retford, 5 in Worksop) based on the following characteristics:

  • Large and small sites in each area
  • Fully let sites with waiting lists
  • Sites with low uptake and vacant plots
  • Sites with significant security/crime and other challenges

Site visits mainly took place between June and July 2021 and were often arranged on Saturdays where site stewards may be visiting to work plots or run allotment shops etc.  It was explained in advance that the visits were for fact finding only to gain information that helps in updating the allotment strategy.

A set of prepared questions were asked only after each site steward had the opportunity to fully introduce the site in their own words, show what works well and what challenges they face.  The job of the consultant was primarily to listen carefully and observe.  In many cases the prepared questions were already fully answered without the consultant referring to the question list. Some spontaneous questions arose or additional insights were asked for.

The length of visit was typically between 1 and 2 hours including a tour of each site. Notes were taken and photographs which would later help in remembering the characteristics of each site.

Questions given may have included:

  • What do people get out of allotment gardening?
  • Is the site self or BDC managed and does this work well?
  • What works well on the site?
  • Do you know of people gardening for health reasons, i.e. suggested by GP’s etc?
  • Is there a ‘community plot’, school involvement, visits etc?
  • Do you do things to encourage wildlife?
  • What is the annual turnover of tenants like and what issues does this create?
  • Do you have any persistent problems of crime and anti-social behaviour?
  • What suggestions do you have that would bring about improvements?

Additional questions may have included:

  • Do you feel a sense of pride in what you’ve achieved here?
  • What is the most important thing that makes the site work?

Worksop sites visited

Claylands Avenue - Spur Crescent - Stubbing Meadows 2 – Cheapside – Gateford Road

Retford sites visited

Rufford Avenue - Strawberry Road – Leafield and Denman – Manvers Road – Grove Road

Presenting the findings

The most useful way to present findings is to provide a general summary of the entire visits process. This approach keeps the sense of a ‘whole of Bassetlaw’ allotment resource where each site belongs within Bassetlaw District’s wider allotment community. Every site has developed its own unique character and each allotment community has grown within this.  Despite the differences there are many challenges and opportunities shared. 

Shared qualities observed

Most sites have developed a very good community spirit where tenants help each other, share knowledge, surplus crops and plants, support each other and try to work harmoniously.  Plot holders are generally trying to grow and work in environmentally friendly ways and are really innovative in reusing and recycling materials, composting and making best use of resources.  The site stewards themselves are helping their sites run smoothly, reporting maintenance issues, un-worked plots and coordinating self-help on site. They work with a light touch, often offering support for tenants facing difficulties working plots through illness etc.

Biodiversity values observed

The wildlife or biodiversity value of the ten sites ranged from a very useful green space for wildlife when compared to the surrounding environment all the way to really excellent habitats.  The range of values reflected how some sites are valuable just in what they are to those creating a real oasis by deliberately doing everything possible to encourage wildlife.  This includes planting wild and cultivated flowers, keeping hedgerows and managing wildflower meadows around fruit trees, installing small ponds and working in wildlife friendly ways.  Many if not most plot holders are using at least some organic methods. 

On 2 sites there was some recording of wildlife value taking place.  The growing of heritage fruit and vegetable varieties is also important within biodiversity and one example was directly observed, this is likely to be taking place on many of Bassetlaw’s allotment sites unrecorded.

Shared challenges and conflicts

At every single site the main issues raised as serious problems were:

  • New and existing tenants becoming inactive and the slow process to enact notice and make plots available to re-let.
  • Difficult to recycle mixed waste left over from tenants needing clearing including carpets used to cover plots becoming fully embedded in new weed growth.
  • Some sites have a high annual turnover of new tenants with plots quickly returning to overgrown states.
  • Problems of tenants taking on plots without any apparent thought as to whether they could commit the time and energy needed to work them.
  • Security issues affected many sites to varying degrees. This included serious thefts of machinery from locked steel containers to breaking into sheds etc.
  • Some site stewards recommend that sheds are not locked so potential thieves do not need to break in to work out there are no high value items inside.

Shared opportunities

The shared opportunities are many and are sometimes the reverse of the challenges faced:

  • Create a site based culture of self-policing where tenants take their individual responsibilities seriously before being asked to follow rules.
  • Instill a sense of personal responsibility for waste disposal on site i.e. taking sorted materials to local tips as they arise rather than letting them accumulate as difficult to handle and costly to dispose of mixed waste.
  • Develop composting or disposal methods on site for difficult to deal with green waste such as perennial weed roots or take to local tip as they arise for composting.
  • Keep strengthening each allotment community, developing mentoring and support for new tenants to help them through the early very daunting learning curve.
  • Encourage every plot holder to ‘do one thing for nature’ so each site has a larger overall biodiversity value.
  • Form constituted allotment associations or groups so individual sites can apply for external funding for high cost facilities such as compost toilets and accessible plots.

Examples of good practice to share

Every site visited had good examples of positive actions worth sharing.  Two sites will be included as case studies in the strategy document because they are successfully addressing some key challenges and opportunities seen at all sites.

Feedback from Site Stewards and Tenants

  • My allotment kept me sane through the Covid 19 lockdown
  • We work with our newbie gardeners to make sure they feel safe and can get support through the difficult stage of getting their plot in order... we do it with them not for them
  • Many of our plot holders are retired, allotment gardening keeps people active as they get older
  • The one key thing that makes our allotment site work is community spirit – people helping each other and sharing!
  • Give us the road planings and woodchip and we’ll put our track and pathways in order ourselves
  • The system of getting new tenants onto plots needs speeding up. It just takes too long!
  • I can tell within a week whether a new tenant will make a go of it!
  • We don’t see much evidence of investment from the rent we pay!
  • I think the £1 a week my allotment costs gives me such great value, I get so much out of it!
  • It is hard to explain to people wanting an allotment plot that there is a waiting list when they can see overgrown plots unused on our site
  • The allotment web pages need to be improved; they should streamline getting new tenants on site much faster. An Allotments App would be good
  • Having honeybees on our site has improved fruit crops noticeably
  • Allotments are a haven, somewhere to get away from the pressures of life.
  • Un-worked plots are such a waste. Tenants who pay their rent and then don’t work their plots need dealing with faster... it is such a waste!
  • Many tenants are wasting huge amounts of water and adding to everyone’s costs, allotments should be all about using resources wisely

Insights gained through the visits

The ten sites visited gave the following insights:

General observations:

  • Relationships with the Parks and Open Spaces Team appeared to be mostly positive and an ‘us and them’ attitude did not come across. There seems to be much more of a partnership approach evident on most sites.
  • Diverse styles of growing from very traditional row planting to growing in blocks and even no dig can co-exist. Inconsiderate tenants leaving tall weeds running to seed seemed to be the main source of conflicts rather than individual styles/methods used.  
  • It was observed that a good gender mix, people from different backgrounds/life experiences and ethnic origins is a positive feature for the success of a site.
  • Security challenges faced on individual sites often reflect wider social issues and patterns of crime in the local area. Seven out of ten sites had no issues whatsoever to report and one town centre site was very heavily impacted by ongoing trespassing and thefts.
  • There is broad recognition that resources are limited for maintenance of sites and there are a wide range of tasks done proactively by stewards and tenants to benefit everyone on most sites.
  • Having a supportive allotment community is especially important early in an allotment tenancy where the learning curve is very daunting. However, even with support, ownership and personal responsibility for the success of their growing experience still has to come from within the individual tenant.

Inactive tenants:

  • Some new tenants are largely inactive from the start of a tenancy; others have never given any significant time commitment to clearing and working their plots.
  • Observations showed Inactive tenants could potentially mean that over 10% of all allotments are in a state of poor cultivation, declining use, or largely unused.
  • Where sites had a number of very overgrown plots it was unclear whether these being ready cleared at the start of tenancy would merely remove an initial obstacle to success but not overcome the longer term obstacles of committing the time needed, maintaining motivation and developing ownership.
  • It is clear that some new tenants would benefit from a phased introduction to growing beginning with smaller ‘taster plots’ so they can establish how allotment growing fits within the time and energy they have available.
  • On smaller sites un-worked plots have a greater negative impact because they represent a larger percentage of overall plots and are far more obvious.
  • It is clear that for some new tenants; access to a community garden structured allotment would suit their needs better and over time could be a stepping stone to an independently worked allotment plot.
  • There needs to be more efficient ways to manage inactive tenants and dramatically speed up the process of re-letting un-worked plots so people on the numerous site waiting lists can begin their tenancies sooner.

Other observations:

  • Care should be taken when suggesting ideas within the allotment strategy that assume site stewards and others already very active in making sure their allotment sites run smoothly will deliver them.
  • Many sites with reasonable access would benefit from having a more accessible plot to keep older tenants involved in growing where they feel no longer physically able to manage a conventional plot. These plots could also include community members with disabilities.
  • Externally funded projects must be sustainable and not be totally reliant on paid staff where funding cuts have rendered these projects inactive on some sites.
  • All externally funded projects work better where funded facilities such as compost toilets and access improvements are planned to bring benefits to the whole site.

Case Study 1 - Claylands Avenue, Worksop – Externally funded projects

The self-managed allotment site at Claylands Avenue has successfully applied for and secured external funding for a range of projects that have brought benefits to the whole site and beneficiaries from the mental health charity Mind.   Improvements include an accessible raised bed community garden with polytunnel and access ramps from a permanently surfaced parking area. They also received funding for a converted shipping container mess room/cooking space and a high quality modular compost toilet.

High quality accessible compost toilet and converted shipping container

The total value of funding from a number of sources was around £35,000 and considering the size, range and quality of improvements, they spent the money extremely wisely.

It is very important to point out that there have been a wide range of other improvements and positive actions carried out by plot holders independently of this major funding. These include having a community orchard and allotment shop to generate income to reinvest in the site which also provides a great value source of gardening essentials for plot holders.

Overall biodiversity values are also very high with plot holders planting wildflowers and installing ponds.  One plot has beehives successfully sited, which brings benefits to pollination of fruit crops on the site.

Case Study 2 – Leafield & Denman, Retford – Mentoring New Tenants and Sharing Skills

At the Leafield & Denman site a culture of mentoring and supporting new or ‘newbie’ tenants has evolved to make this a very nurturing and welcoming allotment community. There is also an impressive level of skills sharing where the different backgrounds of tenants creates a pool or network of skills and contacts useful in supporting the whole allotment community.  This way of doing things is not unique and many of the allotment sites visited are clearly places where the allotment communities pull together and support each other greatly. 

What makes this site stand out is that the level of mentoring, sharing and support has become organised as part of the whole site’s ethos.  If a new tenant needs a shed or greenhouse the allotment community helps to find one going free, get it to site and supports installing it.  Other examples include sharing paving slabs and any other materials useful for improving access and growing.

Rescued cedar greenhouse glazed with plastic sheets donated by the allotment community

The important thing to note is that their way of helping is ‘doing it with and not for’.  This is essential for newbies to build their own capacity to succeed in growing independently.  Like the Claylands Avenue site, biodiversity values are also very high and growing heritage varieties of vegetables could be seen too.  From a superficial look at the whole site you would think it is just another set of allotments; digging deeper you see that it is definitely a place where people grow too and like many allotments that is an important part of what makes the site truly productive.

Using the insights gained within the updated allotment strategy

The site visits and insights gained will be combined with the Parks and Open Spaces Team’s learning and evaluations of actions delivered within the previous allotment strategy. This will be used to develop better ways of directing resources, targeting promotion and working as partners with tenants and agencies in Bassetlaw that actively recognise the community, environmental and health value of allotments.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks are due to all of the site stewards who generously gave up their time to give tours of their sites and share their insights and experiences of involvement in keeping the allotments of Bassetlaw growing and productive! 

Appendix 2

Policy Planning Guidance 17 Audit of Allotments

The government requested full audit of open spaces in Bassetlaw took place to assess the quality, quantity and future community needs for open space within their boundary. The process must be undertaken in such a way that local standards can be set which reflect local needs. To do this consultation with all sectors of the community must be undertaken. Open space is broken down into various categories and one of these is allotments. The process of doing this work is known as PPG 17 (Planning Policy Guidance) with the final work being integrated into the Local Development Plan.

In July 2009, the Council appointed Knight; Kavanagh & Page (KKP Consultancy) to undertake this work on their behalf. The outcome of the consultation has led to a range of standards being set that reflect the communities’ requests.

The key outcomes can be summarised as follows:

Average plot size recommended at 0.025ha (equal to 250sq.m or 300sq Yards)

Number of plots per 1000 population – 0.35 Retford, 0.33 Worksop (or 8.1 and 7.7sq metres per dwelling)

Additional land required by 2026 for allotment provision – 2.52 ha in Retford and 3.68ha in Worksop. These figures are based on assessing the total unmet demand and including a 10% allowance for the growing popularity of allotment plots.

The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) suggest a national standard of 20 allotments per 1,000 households (i.e. 20 allotments per 2,000 people based on 2 people per house) or 1 allotment per 200 people. This equates to 0.125ha per 1,000 population based on an average plot size of 250 metres squared.

Based on the current population, Bassetlaw, as a whole, meets the NSALG recommendation.

KKP recommends that all residents are to be within 10-minute walk time of high quality provision.

The combined allotment waiting list across Bassetlaw, of 178, demonstrates that the high demand for allotments is not currently being met by existing provision. Demand for additional provision is high in Retford.

Worksop has traditionally the bigger sites and plot sizes and therefore is generally able to cater for current demand. The issue in Worksop relates more to vacant plots and unused sites. However, there are some isolated pockets of demand in the area, including Manton. (See P.9 section on Opportunities for new developments in Manton)

The majority of allotments are assessed as high value, reflecting the associated social inclusion and health benefits and also the amenity benefits and sense of place offered by the provision. Users also suggest that there is a good community environment at allotments in Bassetlaw, adding to the value placed on allotments.

The PPG 17 audit shows that the majority of sites are assessed as having both high quality and high value. The exceptions to these are:

Low Value:  Stubbing 2 & 3, Worksop - Albert Road, Retford Grove Road, Retford Newtown, Retford

Reasonable Quality: Bracebridge, Worksop

Low Quality: Keats Crescent, Worksop

Below are details of all the sites in Retford and Worksop, which are owned by the District Council.

Retford

 

Name of site

Size of site (acre)

No of plots

Occupancy

Waiting list

Status

PPG17

Quality

PPG17

Value

Albert Road

0.68

9

100%

1

T

H

L

Leafield (Enclosed)

0.72

18

39%

1

T

H

H

Milnercroft

0.60

8

100%

9

T

H

H

Milnercroft (Enclosed)

1.21

Derelict

 

 

T

 

 

Rufford Av

3.27

51

100%

1

T

H

H

Whinney Moor Lane

0.44

8

100%

3

T

H

H

Grove Road

1.67

25

100%

4

S

H

L

Strawberry Road

1.50

23

100%

8

T

H

H

Newtown

0.47

11

100%

6

T

H

L

Manvers Road

0.95

13

100%

4

T

H

H

Denman

1.57

17

100%

12

T

H

H

Leafield

1.48

18

100%

10

T

H

H

Overall

14.56 (5.89ha)

201

97%

60

 

 

 

Worksop:

 

Name of Site

Size of

Site (acre)

No of plots

Occupancy

Waiting List

Status

PPG17

Quality

PPG17

Value

Claylands Av

8.00

76

97%

0

S

H

H

Rufford St/Spur Crescent

1.87

Derelict

 

 

 

 

 

Stubbing Lane 1

2.89

24

100%

6

S

H

H

Stubbing Lane 2

4.20

70

23%

0

S

H

L

Stubbing Lane 3

4.13

38

74%

5

S

H

L

Gateford Road

1.67

30

100%

3

S

H

H

Valley Rd

0.66

11

100%

4

S

H

H

Keats Cres.

0.73

Not used

 

 

T

L

H

Bracebridge

0.30

5

100%

5

T

R

H

High Hoe

0.76

Derelict

 

 

T

 

 

Bracebridge

0.30

5

100%

0

T

H

H

Cheapside

4.40

55

87%

0

T

H

H

Overall

29.91

12.10ha

308

93%

18

S:Statutory T:Temporary

 

 

 

January 2010

Appendix 3

Retford Allotments Site Location Map

Retford allotment locations

Worksop Allotments Site Location Map

Worksop allotment locations


Last Updated on Friday, February 18, 2022