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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Council’s Revised Allotment Policy Encourages Communities to Grow a Greener Future 

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Members of Highland Council’s Communities and Place Committee agreed to adopt the local authority’s revised allotment policy. 

The Council’s existing allotment policy was last reviewed in 2012.

New legislative duties have been placed on local authorities regarding allotments and, as a result of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (CEA), policy changes are necessary. 

The Act requires local authorities to: 

  • Provide and protect allotments 
  • Maintain allotment waiting lists 
  • Take reasonable steps when waiting list trigger points are reached 
  • Put in place allotment rules and regulations 
  • Produce annual allotment reports 

The Council’s new allotment policy will sit as part of the Highland Community Food Growing Strategy – Growing Our Future Highland.

It will guide the partnership between Highland Council and the Allotment Associations in establishing and managing allotments in Highland. 

A review of the existing approach and development of a new Allotment Policy and Allotment Rules and Regulations has been progressed through engagement with officers across the Council, Allotment Association (AA) representatives and overseen by a small steering group. 

The steering group has included two external community representatives, one from an Allotment Association and one from a community food network.  

The revised policy aims to: 

  • Support and promote the development of sustainable allotments as an asset 
  • Promote allotments as part of the solution and response to climate change and biodiversity loss 
  • Ensure good and effective allotment management 
  • Increase provision of allotments 
  • Increased public awareness of how to access an allotment plot 

Elements of the policy include a consistent approach to rents for allotments held on Council land, which will result in a reduction in rent for some allotment sites and is the equivalent of around £2,000 per annum and embedding the identification of allotment sites into planning applications for developments in line with the local development plan. 

In addition, in responding to the new duties contained within the Act, there will be requirements such as support for groups to develop allotments, annual reporting requirements, steering group meetings and, when required, early-stage project development. 

Chair of Highland Council’s Communities and Place Committee, Cllr Graham MacKenzie, welcomed the revised policy, saying:

“This policy encourages the use of allotments for wider community benefit, including co-location with community projects and links between allotments and food resilience initiatives. 

“Allotments are a really positive way of increasing opportunities for people’s life chances: skills development, healthy lifestyles, access to low-cost fresh food, and indirect positive impacts for children in low-income households.” 

Members at the Committee also agreed in principle the Rules and Regulations for allotments, pending a further public notice period, to enable wider comment on the proposed changes. 

The details will be published at the following link:  

https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/283/community_life_and_leisure/1102/highland_allotments_policy_and_regulations_for_allotment_sites

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