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‘Statutory protection’ of allotments is often cited, little understood – and under threat. Gaby Bartai investigates the state of play on the plot
Farm Terrace Allotments bulldozed

It’s all too easy for those in favour of development to portray allotmenteers as selfish individualists defending their right to pursue their hobby at the expense of the wider community. Given the urgent need for housing and other amenities, allotment sites in what are now prime development locations can be seen as an anachronism that can no longer be indulged. But the right we are defending is a fundamental one: allotments are the last remnant of the common land that once belonged to everyone. Allotment provision began as a response to the Enclosure Acts which fenced off common land, leaving the poor with nowhere to grow food. Eventually, legislation was passed requiring landowners to provide compensatory allotments. For those without private gardens, allotments are not a privilege – they’re a birthright.

Allotment rights hit national headlines in 2016 when the Farm Terrace campaigners (featured in KG in March 2017) lost their four-year battle to save their site. Although the plot-holders won two court cases, Watford Borough Council persuaded the judge in the third case that its need for development land constituted the ‘exceptional circumstances’ which can override statutory allotment protections.The campaigners described the judgment as a ‘developers’ charter’ which would pave the way for many more closures. So what has changed – and what can we do about it?

“Allotments are the last remnant of the common land that once belonged to everyone”

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Flavours to savour - extend the growing season for raspberries, potatoes & tomatoes. Unearthed - avoid the great allotment sell-off. Save your plots from the developers! Grow your own multivitamens. How to... grow a pot noodle // make an onion drying rack. Delicious summer recipes. PLUS: Your holiday watering worries solved // Lift stir-fries with Pak Choi // Instant savers