Agenda item

Allotments Consultation and Next Steps

This report summarises the results of the consultation and recommends next steps and proposals for a future strategy for the management and maintenance of the allotments service.


The Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report which gave an update on a recent consultation with allotment holders within Reading, set out next steps and proposals for the future management of allotment sites.

The report explained that the Council was undertaking a review of the current allotment management and charging model in order to achieve an agreed budget saving to support the Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS).  However, the Council was conscious that significant rent increases might impact badly on some tenants who relied on the food that they grew on their plots and for whose physical and mental wellbeing allotments gardening was important, and had therefore been considering ways to reduce costs without further significant increases to those managing an allotment.

The report explained that over the past few years, the Council had been approached by allotments tenants looking for more say in the management of sites, faster turn-around times in letting vacant plots, and different ways of delivering a range of allotments services.  A consultation with all tenants had been undertaken between 17 August 2020 and 17 September 2020 to gauge tenants’ interest in and ability to form site associations that could take on aspects of self-management, specifically including site management, some grounds maintenance and waste management.  A total of 452 responses or contacts had been received.

Section 6 of the report set out proposals for the next steps which included:

  • Starting work with representatives on the seven sites that were interested in self-management focusing identifying untended plots, resolving whether these were available for re-letting, and issuing offers.  Site representatives to notify the Council about which plots required notification to plot holders about overgrown plots and meet prospective new tenants to show them the plot and hand out keys once a contract has been exchanged. The Council to retain administrative and invoicing functions.  Learning outcomes from these seven sites would be recorded and used to inform the revised Allotments Plan reported below.
  • Groups like Food4Families and horticultural societies to be engaged to support tenant groups that wished to take on management and/or maintenance tasks.
  • The Council to start immediately on a programme of clearances of unkempt plots as well as other winter works, with these seven sites as a priority.  Additionally, the Council would make bids for funding, if available, to make good site infrastructure on those sites working towards self-management, including fence replacement and road repairs.
  • Regular reports on occupancy ratios and re-letting turnover to be published on a new allotments page on the website, demonstrating the improvements that were possible with very limited tenant involvement.
  • Information about self-management schemes and other issues of interest to allotment holders would also be published on the website.
  • The Council to apply electronic payments and communication for all hired services to allotment rental payments from January 2021, making allowances for those tenants unable to make electronic payments.
  • Fees, charges and concessions to be reviewed and a new structure agreed for implementation in January 2022.
  • The Council to draft a revised Allotments Plan during 2021-22, setting out the longer-term objectives for the service, then circulate it for wider consultation with tenants and elected Members.  The Council would also seek additional personnel for engagement with allotment tenants during the period during when the Allotments Plan was being drawn up and consulted on.
  • The Allotments Plan would be presented to a future meeting of the Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee to allow time to notify tenants of any material changes to be applied when leases were renewed in January 2022.


(1)      That the report and the findings of the consultation of tenants be noted;

(2)      That the next steps as shown in Section 6 of the report be noted;

(3)      That an updated Allotments Plan be created, be subject to public consultation and be reported for approval to a future meeting of the Committee;

(4)      That an annual Allotment Plan progress report be submitted to the Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee at its Autumn meeting in 2021.


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