23. The modern legislation covering allotment provision
and protection has developed in a piecemeal fashion with various
Allotment Acts being introduced between 1908 and 1950. New legislation
was used during this period to reflect the changing role of allotments.
The various Acts are still mostly in force and continue to define
many aspects of allotment provision. Table 1 below details the
most important features of each piece of legislation. Fuller details
are provided in Appendix II.
24. The legislation places a duty upon local authorities
to provide allotments where demand exists.
Beyond this requirement, the most important feature of the legislation
is the protection it provides for 'statutory' sites owned by local
issue is dealt with fully in later sections of the Report. Various
aspects such as rents, periods of notice and compensation are
also covered by the Acts.
25. Much of the original legislation was drafted
with the aim of ensuring that the urban poor had continued access
to cultivable land to grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables.
Some memoranda suggested that this basis for the laws means that
they are no longer appropriate, as allotments now primarily form
part of the leisure provision for a local population.
26. A large number of submissions commented on the
confusing nature of allotment law
and it is clear that the implications of the legislation are poorly
understood by allotmenteers and local authorities alike. The weaknesses
of the legislation were well described by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State: "It is very old. It is over-prescriptive in some
areas and under-prescriptive in others. It is spread across dozens
of different statutes...".
The Local Government Association noted:
"The myriad Acts
that constitute the legislative context for local authority allotment
provision lead to confusion about what roles and responsibilities
local authorities have and about how they discharge their function,
to the detriment of allotment provision and maintenance."
Table 1: Principal Allotments Legislation
Act and Date
Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908
Consolidated all previous legislation and laid down basis for all subsequent legislation.
Placed duty on local authorities to provide sufficient allotments, according to demand. Also makes provision for local authorities to purchase compulsorily land to provide allotments.
Allotments Act 1922
Limited the size of an allotment to one-quarter of an acre and specified that it should be used mostly for growing fruit and vegetables.
Also protected tenants by laying down periods of notice, ensuring compensation for termination of tenancies and compelled most allotment authorities to set up allotment committees.
Allotments Act 1925
Required local authorities to recognise the need for allotments in any town planning development.
Established 'statutory' allotments which a local authority could not sell or convert to other purposes without Ministerial consent.
Allotments Act 1950
Followed on from the findings of the Allotments Advisory Committee Report of 1949. Made improved provisions for compensation and tenancy rights. Also confined local authorities' obligation to 'allotment gardens' only.
27. We received much evidence on the need for reform
of allotments law.
In this regard, it is interesting to note that one of the principal
findings of the Thorpe report,
published nearly 30 years ago, was that "All existing allotments
legislation should be repealed and replaced by a single Act incorporating
such of our recommendations as require legislative backing."
This recommendation was not acted upon. Similarly, the 1984 Private
Member's Bill "Recreational Gardening" introduced by
Lord Wallace of Coslany sought to "clarify, simplify and
update" the legislation
but was defeated.
28. We believe there is a need for urgent action
to protect existing allotment sites. In the short term, specific
modifications to advice and procedures relating to allotment provision
are required and these are detailed throughout the Report. Many
of these changes are comparatively simple but the sum total will
ensure a fairer and clearer system for all concerned.
29. For the long term protection of allotments,
we believe that allotments legislation must be overhauled. We
conclude that the Government should issue a Green Paper as soon
as is practicable and commission a research study to consult with
the various interested parties and develop a consolidating piece
of legislation which simplifies, updates and enhances existing
allotments legislation. The Government should aim to introduce
the resulting Bill within the lifetime of this Parliament.
30. Within the allotments legislation, there are
various restrictions placed upon the use of allotment sites. In
particular, the plot must be "mainly cultivated by the occupier
for the production of vegetables and fruit crops for consumption
by himself or his family."
The implication of this is that only a limited proportion of a
plot may be used for growing flowers and no commercial use may
be made of produce. Subsequent legislation has restricted livestock
to certain types of animal such as hens and rabbits.
31. Much of the evidence received on these issues
argued that the restrictions were unnecessarily prescriptive and
suggested that their relaxation would encourage greater demand
for allotments. Indeed,
the Local Government Association noted that:
"... the only
problem is that some of the existing legislation for allotments
does actually inhibit authorities and what they can do and obviously
we need to consolidate some of the legislation and add bits to
it so that people can sell crops to community cafés and
co-operatives and grow other things as well as vegetables."
It is likely that some local authorities and allotment
societies are operating relaxed versions of these restrictions.
However, this situation is unsatisfactory because it could lead
to a site being judged to be outside the scope of the protective
32. Quite simply, most of the restrictions on use
of allotment gardens are no longer appropriate matters for national
legislation. We recommend that the main restrictions on the
use of allotments contained in national legislation should be
repealed. In particular, decisions over:
- the uses to which plots may be put, particularly
with regard to flower growing;
- commercial use with regard to site shops and
the sale of surplus produce; and
- the keeping of livestock
should be made on a site-by-site basis by the
local authority or allotment society. We urge that care should
be taken when relaxing restrictions so that the essential character
of a site is maintained.
40 This section draws upon the evidence of the National
Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (Ev pp2-3 (HC560-i))
and 'The Law of Allotments' J.F.Garner, Shaw & Sons Ltd, 1984 Back
Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 Back
Allotments Act 1925 Back
Ev p31, para 9 (HC560-ii) and Stroud Town Council [Ev not printed] Back
See, for example, Q91 Back
Ev p31, para 9 (HC560-ii) Back
See, for example, 'Proposed Legislation' from National Society
for Allotment and Leisure Gardeners [Ev not printed] Back
Thorpe Committee of Inquiry into Allotments, 1969 (Cmnd 4166) Back
Ev p46, para 4.4 (HC560-ii) Back
Allotments Act 1922, section 22 Back
Allotments Act 1950, section 12 Back
Ev pp2, 14 and 18 (HC560-II); Angela Turner [Ev not printed] Back
Ev p9 (HC560-II) and 'The Law of Allotments', JF Garner, Shaw
& Sons Ltd, 1984, p59 Back