Publication - Consultation paper

Allotments guidance for local authorities: consultation

Published: 25 Jun 2018

Consultation on draft statutory guidance for local authorities relating to certain sections of Part 9 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 - Allotments.

Contents
Allotments guidance for local authorities: consultation
3. Section 112 – Duty to provide allotments

3. Section 112 – Duty to provide allotments

Legislative background

3.1 Section 112 places a duty on local authorities to take reasonable steps to ensure: (1) that the number of people on their waiting list does not exceed half the total number of allotments owned and leased by the authority; and (2) that a person on the list does not wait more than five years for an allotment.

3.2 For local authorities which do not, when section 112 comes into force, own or lease any allotments, this duty applies when there are 15 people or more on the waiting list maintained under section 111. For local authorities which already own or lease allotments when the section comes into force, the duty applies when only one person is on the waiting list. In respect of (2), as agreed during the passage of the Community Empowerment Bill, that part of the duty will take effect later than the rest of Part 9 (See regulation 15 of The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (Commencement No. 10, Saving, Transitional and Transitory Provisions) Order 2017 [3] ).

3.3 Subsection (4) provides that local authorities must have regard to the desirability of making available allotments that are reasonably close to where people on the relevant authority's waiting list reside.

Section guidance

3.4 Subsection (4) does not provide a definition of "reasonably close" but as a guide, allotments within a 3 mile radius, or within a 20 minute journey on public transport from where people on the waiting list reside is considered reasonably close. Local authorities may however opt to apply more appropriate time or distance criteria where necessary based upon local geography.

3.5 The reasonable steps that the local authorities should take to meet their obligations under section 112 include, but are not limited to:

(1). Analysing demand:

3.6 Officers responsible for allotments should consult with a wide range of stakeholders when carrying out their analysis of demand for the local authority area. Such stakeholder engagement should include, as appropriate: planners, community development and health improvers, senior elected members, senior managers from relevant public services, members of the business community and the third sector. Local authorities should also consider using on-line consultation to obtain the views of local residents.

3.7 Local authorities can use information gathered from this consultation process to identify what participants consider to be the major drivers of change and the related impact. Allotments and community growing are integral to this, so demand is recognised.

(2). Disseminating information:

3.8 Every local authority should develop adequate procedures for wide dissemination of information about allotment provision. This should include a clear, easily accessed webpage on the local authority website listing all sites within the local authority area. It should also include local authority managed and devolved sites and privately managed sites, and give contact details for these sites, where relevant.

3.9 Local authorities should, where possible, include information on the website relating to the length of waiting lists or the time since the most recent allotment allocation on the site. Such information should be updated as appropriate, at least on an annual basis.

3.10 Where an allotment site has its own website or social media page, local authorities should include links to these sites from the local authority website. The local authority should also, as good practice, include links to any allotment strategy that the authority may have, and to their food-growing strategy and annual allotments report from the local authority website.

3.11 As set out in paragraph 2.8, where practicable local authorities should give consideration to using an online application process to receive and manage applications for allotments.

3.12 If applicable, local authorities may wish to consider liaising with their relevant local growers' forum(s) to determine the feasibility of sending out communications such as newsletters and information for aspiring plot-holders on their behalf.

(3). Developing partnership working:

3.13 Local authorities should work in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders, including independent allotment associations, those on the waiting lists, community participation bodies such as community councils, housing associations, and community growers. These stakeholders should be engaged in the decision-making process around allotments policy, and in the design and delivery of new allotment sites. The local authority may, if they consider it beneficial, work with the allotment associations to facilitate independent groups wishing to develop self-funded allotment sites.

3.14 Local authorities may wish, through their various local authority officers (such as regeneration, community development, land and environment services), to consider the provision of relevant training for members of such stakeholder groups in technical aspects ( e.g. in the design and procurement of allotment sites) and in managerial matters.

3.15 Community planning should be used to bring together the collective talents and resources of local public services and communities, and working with third sector and outside organisations.

(4). Identifying all land in the area that is suitable for growing:

3.16 As part of the food-growing strategy, the Planning Department of the local authority may wish to use an appropriate dataset, such as the OS MasterMap ( OSMM) Greenspace [4] , to improve planning, analysis and decision making.

3.17 Appropriate datasets could help local authorities to show all the land available for cultivation together with ownership, distinguishing between local authority owned or leased land and that in private ownership.

3.18 Where there is an unmet demand for allotments, local authorities may wish to approach private landowners to discuss options for making additional land available for allotments provision. The authority should consider including in the Allotment Report (section 121) additional information relating to such approaches, the result of the approach, any arrangement offered etc.

(5). Ensuring there is sufficient suitable land to satisfy future demand:

3.19 Local authorities should incorporate growing spaces in all planning briefs for regeneration and new developments, preserving sufficient good quality land to satisfy current and future demand. Further detail relating to planning considerations is provided in the Food Growing Strategy Guidance for Local Authorities

3.20 Reasonable steps should not include reducing waiting lists by either restricting the size of allotments available, or by an excessive procedure of landlord inspections to address issues of poor allotment condition or allotment deterioration.
Local authorities are, however, required in section 115(3)(c), (d) and (h) to make regulations pertaining to the cultivation and maintenance of allotments and to carry out inspections. A reasonable and balanced approach by local authorities is required when authorities are evaluating plot condition or plot deterioration during their inspections.

(6). Understanding individual needs of those on the waiting list:

3.21 Based on individual needs, the authority should offer the most appropriate allotment relevant to the specified area requested. E.g. if the specified area requested is 100 square metres, an allotment of 100m 2 ± 5% should be offered. If a 100m 2 ± 5% allotment is unavailable, the authority should offer the next available size within a 3 mile radius of the individual's residence (or within a 20 minute journey on public transport). Local authorities may opt to apply more appropriate time or distance criteria based upon local geography.

3.22 If the next available size of allotment is offered and rejected, the person should remain on the list until an allotment of 100m 2 is available or a different sized allotment is offered and accepted. To ensure those on the list have the best chance of obtaining the size of allotment requested, local authorities should signpost individuals to private sites in its area.

Question 5 Is section 112 of the statutory guidance clear and understandable, to allow the local authority to deliver its statutory obligations under Part 9?

Yes
No

If no, i.e. you consider that the guidance is not clear and understandable, please tell us why you think this, and how it needs to be improved. Please include the relevant paragraph numbers in your response.

Question 5 comments:

Question 6 Are there any gaps or omissions in section 112 of the statutory guidance?

Yes
No

If yes, i.e. you consider that there are gaps or omissions, please tell us what you think is missing. If appropriate, please include the relevant paragraph numbers in your response.

Question 6 comments:


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