What is allotment land? How to locate and protect it.
There is more to locating existing, vacant or possible new allotment land than simply asking the Council. Sometimes they simply do not know. There can also be a tangle of false information to unravel.There are at least four types of allotments: Statutory, Temporary, Private and Charitable. It is not always easy to determine which is which, and it makes a difference. In addition, there may be railway and company land allotments.
You might be able to check the situation in your area by looking at the Agreed Proposals Map in the Local Development Framework of your District Planning office. Allotments might be in the agricultural, green or recreational space there. More information can be found on www.planningportal.gov.uk.
Who owns the site?
It may be possible to check on the ownership of a site or a proposed new site with the Land Registry.
To do that try www.landregistry.gov.uk and scroll down for Public Guide 1 - A Guide to Information Available. Appendix F and G list local offices that may advise and help by phone. Also scroll to Property Search - Land Registry, which offers aerial views and ownership information (£4). Google Maps may show detailed aerial view of a site for you - with boundaries visible - on the satellite view: for Planning Office inquiries. There is a Land Registry e-service for sites as well.Land may be designated as allotments on site maps, and large scale maps are available from the Ordnance Survey printed out by a local approved print shop that they will name for your area. If land is designated as agricultural by the District Planning Department you do not need planning permission to convert it to allotment use.
How does a Council obtain allotment land?
Councils between them have both the duty and the right to provide allotment land. For this purpose, they may obtain land by purchase on the open market (and land prices should be lower in a recession) or by taking a lease (say 30 years or more). In the event of no agreement being reached, they have the power of compulsory purchase or of compulsory leasing. Funding would be through the District Council, and arrangements for servicing any loan may be agreed.
The first and vital step for all types of allotment is to keep in contact with the District Planning Office. Check for all planning applications affecting your site (statutory, private or temporary) so as to oppose if you need to; and as a group of Friends make sure you are represented in discussion of the Local Development Framework and its allotment implications, which you have a right to do. Always check, and do not necessarily accept, statements from potential developers as to ownership, plans, rights of way and boundaries or sales or similar matters affecting your Field.
For help in checking the types of Allotment land, trying to expand the site or prevent a sale, go to the Members section. You need to be a member of SWCAA to enter this section.