1.This report has been produced for the Greater London Allotments Forum (GLAF). The research was carried out at City Hall through the offices of the GLA Green Group.
2.The Greater London Authority (GLA) came into being in June 2000 with the remit to be the strategic authority for Greater London. As a central part of this remit the Mayor of London is directed to produce eight statutory strategies covering Greater London. Of particular importance is the planning strategy, known as The London Plan. The Mayor has also produced a small number of non-statutory strategies.
3.The GLAF was formed in 2003 to enable partnership working between allotment communities across Greater London to achieve shared aims and objectives. A primary concern is to identify the key policies and policy-makers that affect allotments in order that the GLAF may positively influence them.
4.The purpose of this research is to identify the core elements of the Mayor's strategies that impact upon allotment communities across Greater London.
5.To achieve the purpose all the Mayor's eight statutory strategies - planning, transport, economic development, biodiversity, culture, waste management, air quality and ambient noise - and two voluntary strategies - energy and children and young people - along with the Mayor's Green Capital Report were examined to identify the key elements and policies which impact upon allotments in the Greater London area. The main focus of this research has been the planning strategy (The London Plan) since all the other strategies both derive from and link into The London Plan.
6.There are a wide range of reports and ancillary documents produced by the GLA and its associated bodies1 that provide useful background information to many of the strategies. Some of these are listed in the bibliography at the back of this report.
7.This report is a snapshot of the implications of the Mayor's strategies as they stand in published form in May 2004. All of the strategies are constantly evolving. Some are published as finished strategies; others are published in draft form2. Whether finished or in draft, there is a defined review process for each strategy within the GLA. The GLA is also preparing other non-statutory strategies. Of particular note are the London Food Strategy and the London Trees Framework. The result of the Mayoral election on 10/06/04 may result in significant change to the strategies.
8.The report contains a short section on each strategy and report as listed in para 5 above. Each section identifies the key elements of each strategy and their impact on allotments in the Greater London area.
9.These sections are complemented by a list summarising some of the main issues facing allotments and a brief SWOT analysis for allotments in the light of analysis of the Mayor's strategies. At the end of the report are a list of some of the opportunities and connections open to allotments and recommendations for action.
10.Any comments or questions on the report should be directed to the author at email@example.com .
This is a summary of some of the issues facing allotment communities today. It is not intended to be wholly comprehensive but instead to identify some issues to be thinking about when considering the implications of the Mayor's strategies.
|Formation of GLAF to co-ordinate and promote the
views of allotment associations in the Greater London
||Newness of GLAF. Networks not yet fully formed.
Low public profile. Reliance on volunteers.
|Support in the London Plan and other Mayoral
strategies for the preservation, protection and enhancement of
existing green spaces and the creation of new green spaces,
||GLAF not actively supported by members from all
allotment communities in Greater London
|A growing 'green' trend in society, including the
growing popularity of local food and organic food.
||Relationships with borough councils. Inadequacy of
resources dedicated to allotment sites by borough
|Access to the GLA through the Green
||Legal status of non-council allotment
|Government initiative on allotments nationally:
The Allotment Regeneration Initiative - ODPM.
||Strong competition for land that is suitable for
new allotment sites, particularly in Inner London.
|The diversity of London's population. Inclusion of
excluded groups: disabled and ill; old; ethnic minorities;
children; refugees /immigrants; women; poor; gay and
||Increased requirement for land for housing,
business and cultural development due to population growth and
|To contribute to efforts to make London a
sustainable city with a high quality environment and promote the
benefits of allotments in the current 'green' context.
||Limited opportunities for new allotments due to
|Increase in demand for allotment sites in some
areas to produce local, own-grown, often organic, food. To promote
expansion of allotment site numbers to meet current and future
||Investment skewed in favour of Inner London to the
detriment of Outer London
|To increase bio-diversity, both in terms of
produce and wildlife, and actively participate in Bio-Diversity
||Neglect / under use of allotment sites leading to
demand for allocation of land to other uses.
|Use of Section 106 Agreements to provide new
||Inadequacy of funding to maintain and develop
|To work in partnership with external bodies on a
range of initiatives on health, education, social inclusion,
biodiversity, and waste management amongst others.
||Air pollution and climate change.
1.The London Plan is the strategic plan setting out an integrated economic, social and environmental framework for the future development of London. The London Plan looks forward over a fifteen to twenty year timeframe. It provides the context within which all London boroughs' planning policies must operate.
2.The London Plan is the integrating framework for all other GLA strategies, both statutory and non-statutory. It also sets out the policy framework for the Mayor's involvement in major planning decisions in London.
3.The GLA Act requires that the London Plan takes account of the following three themes: the health of Londoners; equality of opportunity; its contribution to sustainable development in the UK (See p.vii). Allotments have a role to play in all three areas.
4.The Mayor's vision for London is set out in all the GLA strategies but is covered only in this section to avoid repetition. The vision is to develop London as an exemplary, sustainable world city based on three interwoven themes: strong' diverse long-term economic growth; social inclusivity; and improvements in London's environment and use of resources. The last two of these themes are particularly relevant for allotment communities.
5.The main theme of the London Plan is accommodation of the growth in both jobs and population. The London Plan states that this growth must be accommodated without expansion into the existing Green Belt or encroaching on London's internal green spaces (See Mayor's Introduction p. xi and p.2 para xi). It would seem therefore that the premise of the London Plan is that existing allotments should not be threatened by development.
6.In order to accommodate this growth without encroaching on green space, the London Plan states that London must achieve intensified, integrated development on existing brownfield sites, leading to a much more compact city.
7.One of the drivers of this growth is the requirement for a high quality environment. (See para xv, p.3).
8.All policies within the London Plan are set within an overarching policy of sustainable development. Part of this theme of sustainable development is the requirement to protect and enhance open spaces3.
9. In order to enable his vision to be implemented, the Mayor has set out five themes that are common to all GLA strategies. These are that London can become: a city for people; a prosperous city; a fair city; an accessible city; and a green city. In the London Plan these are developed into six objectives, four of which have key implications for allotment communities4:
10.These objectives (which are expanded upon in the various chapters of the London Plan) and their key policy directions clearly contain implications and present opportunities for allotment communities that are outlined below.
11.Implications of the London Plan for allotment communities are as follows:
12.Opportunities identified in the London Plan for allotment communities are as follows:
||LONDON PLAN PAGE NO.
||The Mayor's Objectives
||Areas for Intensification
||Areas for Regeneration
||Borough Housing Targets
||Large Residential Developments
||Addressing the needs of London's diverse
||Protection and enhancement of social
infrastructure and community facilities
|3A.16||The Voluntary and Community Sector
||Supporting Neighbourhood Plans
||Developing London's economy
||Realising the value of open space
||Open Space provision in UDPs
||Open Space strategies
||Bio-diversity and nature conservation
||Waste strategic policy and targets
||Respect local context and communities
||Sub-Regional Development Frameworks
||Working in partnership
||Generation and use of resources
1.This report is the Mayor's State of the Environment report, published every four years. This report was published in 2003 and contains potentially useful information for allotment communities.
2.One of the key elements of the report is the indicator relating to the availability of land for development. This indicator only takes into account derelict or previously developed land as being available for development. Allotments are specifically excluded from the data in this indicator. (See paras 1.10 - 1.13, p.13 - 16).
3. Data on allotments is covered in paras 1.14 - 1.16, p.16 - 18. This includes a summary by borough of the provision of allotments. Para 14.3, p.145 states that a reduction in allotments would be detrimental to the environment.
4. The remainder of the report contains useful data on a range of environmental indicators, including biodiversity, air quality and waste management (including composting). There is also a section on the need to reduce London's ecological footprint.
5.Appendix 1 (p.147 - 149) contains further allotment details for individual boroughs in addition to those contain in p.16 - 18 of the report.
1.Though the Transport Strategy contains much of great interest, there is little of direct concern to allotment communities. Two areas of interest are the land requirement for transport functions (see footnote 6) and developments in bus networks where it will improve access to allotment sites for those without access to a private vehicle.
1.Open spaces provide areas from which relatively little ambient noise emanates, thereby acting as a noise break. Open spaces are useful in providing relatively tranquil areas in which people can seek refuge from the noise of the city. As one type of open space, allotment sites can help to reduce the effects of noise pollution.
1. The importance of a high quality environment, both natural and built, in order to attract people, companies and investment is emphasised in the strategy. See Objective 4 in Section 3.2, p.33. In particular London's green spaces, of which allotments are part, are noted for their role in making London an attractive place to live, work and invest in.
2. The importance of the contribution made by London's community and voluntary sector to the economy in general and the planning and delivery of economic and social development in particular is acknowledged in the strategy. In recognition of this the strategy states the need for specialist business support for the community and voluntary sector and advocates partnership working with the community and voluntary sector. An example of this is the 'Working Together' compact between the GLA and them London Voluntary Services Commission (LVSC).13
3. One theme of the strategy is the need for environmentally friendly, low energy, sustainable development. To this end the strategy promotes the importance of the environmental economy and sets a target of creating another 10000 jobs in the environmental economy sector. Though this may not be directly relevant to allotment communities it does highlight the increasing importance of the 'green' sector.
4. One potential implication for allotment communities is that the London Development Agency (LDA) has the power to compulsorily purchase land for large-scale regeneration projects e.g. 2012 Olympics bid, Thames Gateway Regeneration.
5. There are a number of issues covered in the Economic Development Strategy where allotments may have a contribution to make. These issues are: health; bio-diversity; social inclusion; accessibility; air quality; education; learning new skills; rehabilitation; and poverty reduction.
1. The Cultural Strategy promotes London's diversity of population as one of its greatest strengths. It states the need to develop communities through cultural activities by identifying and promoting appropriate activities for different communities according to their needs and priorities. For some of London's diverse communities, allotments do or could fulfil some of their cultural needs.
2.This is particularly the case for those groups that are often socially excluded from mainstream cultural activities. Allotments can assist social inclusion for a wide range of excluded people and groups e.g. those in poverty, disabled people, certain ethnic minority groups and older people by providing a means of social contact and cultural activity. The Cultural Strategy argues, on sustainability grounds, for increased cultural provision at neighbourhood / local level. Allotments can be one means of providing a cultural focus at local level.
3.The Cultural Strategy formalises the importance of local cultural provision through Policy 9 (p.88): 'Culture should be a means of empowering London's communities'. Policy 9 has four sub-policies, two of which are relevant:
a.Policy 9.1; 'Promote the value of local cultural provision and its role in community empowerment.'
b.Policy 9.2 Develop a programme of activity to address social inclusion?'
4.Green and open spaces are seen as cultural facilities in their own right as well as being sites for cultural activity and crucial 'breathing spaces' in an increasingly dense and populated city (para 235, p.95). Policy 12.4 (p.110) is 'promote the cultural potential of London's green spaces and waterways'. Cultural activity can be used as a means of promoting the value of allotments and their associated benefits e.g. provision of local, healthy food, wildlife habitat provision. The Cultural Strategy stresses the importance of green spaces being accessible to all people (para 325, p.115) and the potential of green spaces to act as a focus for the community.
1.The Air Quality Strategy concentrates on cutting emissions from industry, homes and motor vehicles. It does not emphasise the value of green space in absorbing pollutants, particularly PM10, though this is an area where allotments do contribute to the improvement of air quality. The only implication for allotments that can be drawn out (it is not directly stated) is that all waste should be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner i.e. not burnt.
|Policy /Proposal No.
||Boroughs should use the procedures adopted by the
Mayor to identify and protect Sites of Borough and Local Importance
for Nature Conservation and other local designations.
||The Mayor will and the boroughs should resist
development which should have a significant adverse impact on the
population or conservation status of protected or priority
||The Mayor will and boroughs should take account of
the protection of wildlife habitats and biodiversity in the
consideration of all planning applications.
||The Mayor will and boroughs should ensure that new
development capitalises on opportunities to create, manage and
enhance wildlife habitat and natural landscape.
||The Mayor will aim to survey all open spaces and
wildlife habitats throughout London on a ten year rolling
||The Mayor will encourage and promote the
management, enhancement and creation of green space for
bio-diversity, and promote public access and appreciation of
||The Mayor will encourage land managers, including
borough councils, to take bio-diversity into account in the
management of their land.
||The Mayor will work with voluntary organisations
to support and develop the role of local volunteers in protecting
and managing local nature sites.
||A framework for London's trees and woodlands will
be prepared by the Mayor in partnership with other relevant
||The Mayor will work with the London Parks and
Green Spaces Forum and other relevant bodies to facilitate
information exchange on best practice in enhancing the
bio-diversity value and promoting sustainable management in parks
and green spaces in London.
||The Mayor will work with the boroughs and others
to encourage greater public use of allotments. He will promote the
social, health and sustainability benefits of allotments and
encourage London and borough Bio-Diversity Action Plans to address
improvements to their wildlife value.
||The Mayor will work in partnership with other
interested organisations, such as the NHS and park managers, to
maximise the health benefits of green spaces.
||The Mayor will promote local opportunities for
regular direct contact with the natural world through a variety of
types of open space (including allotments).
||The Mayor will encourage practices, and support
existing effective initiatives, that reduce London's impact on
5.The Bio-Diversity Strategy emphasises the important role of allotments in helping to break down social barriers, foster a sense of community and provide contact with nature (para 3.19, p. 34). This role is particularly important in areas of regeneration.
6.The important role of allotments in composting and recycling waste is linked to the Waste Management Strategy (para 3.41, p.34).
7.Allotments with particular bio-diversity value may attract nature protection designations such as Borough Sites of Importance for Nature or Local Sites of Importance for Nature. These designations may impact upon allotment management practices. One aim of the strategy is to ensure no net loss of important wildlife sites.
8.The Bio-Diversity Strategy emphasises the importance of partnership working, particularly through the London Bio-Diversity Action Partnership and Borough Bio-Diversity Action partnerships. Borough Bio-Diversity Action plans should be part of Borough Community Strategies. Also of importance is the London Green Parks and Open Spaces Forum which is intended to promote best practice and share information on all types of green space including allotments (see para 101, p.66).
9.The strategy states that bio-diversity on allotments can contribute to a number of other functions that may occur on allotment sites: health benefits; education; social inclusion; and a focus for the community.
10.It should be noted that although Proposal 30 is intended to promote allotments and their benefits, there is no link to the London Plan. The London Plan contains no specific policy on allotments, being dealt with under the general term of green / open spaces.
11.A list of relevant partnership organisations for bio-diversity is on p.107 - 108. Appendix 1 of the strategy contains policy, criteria and procedures for identifying wildlife sites in London. Appendix 3 summarises national priority habitats and species found in London and outlines the London Bio-Diversity Partnership Action Plan and the status of borough bio-diversity action plans.
1.The Strategy promotes three issues that are relevant to allotment communities: recycling and reduction of waste; composting; and education and promotion.
2.There are increasing targets for recycling and reduction of waste set out in the strategy. Allotments already contribute to recycling and reduction of waste through the reuse of materials and composting of organic materials. Allotments may be able to develop their contributions in this area.
3.Policy 15 of the Strategy states that: 'Waste Authorities should maximise waste composting where waste reduction and reuse are not possible as a means of contributing to recycling and composting targets. A hierarchy of home composting, community composting, then centralised composting should be followed'. This is complemented by proposal 23: 'The Mayor will work with the Environment agency to alleviate current problems of licensing, particularly of small scale composting sites'. Allotments are identified as one type of place where community composting facilities could be provided. The Strategy states that a significant increase in composting is required and encourages boroughs to provide allotment land for community composting facilities. (See para 4D4, p.165, and paras 4D8 - 4D14, p.167 - 168).
4.The Strategy emphasises the importance of community and voluntary groups in promoting waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting and educating people, particularly children, in these issues. This is best achieved through partnerships and initiatives such as the Recycling Consortium's Community Waste Action Project and Waste Watch's Schools Waste Action Club. Allotment communities could contribute to education and promotion in waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting where appropriate.
1.This strategy is not directly relevant to allotments, except in that where they have energy needs allotment communities could seek to obtain those energy needs through environmentally friendly means (e.g. small scale wind generators, solar power) and take energy efficiency measures where appropriate. The Energy Strategy encourages such measures.
1.This strategy is not directly relevant to allotments except where allotment members currently include children and/or local schools or where allotments want to attract children to allotment growing as an activity. For allotment communities that include children, Action Point 5A.1.2 should be noted: 'The London Plan, together with guidance on developing open space strategies, will provide the framework to ensure that the needs of children and young people are incorporated into local plans. Borough community strategies should pay specific attention to creating child-friendly neighbourhoods'.
2.Encouraging children and young people into allotment growing is an opportunity to promote understanding of allotments and increase their appeal amongst local communities.
There are a large number of organisations and initiatives with which the GLAF could make connections and, if appropriate, enter into partnership with in order to promote and further the cause and benefits of allotments. A number of these organisations and initiatives are grouped under appropriate headings below.
1.In the light of the Mayor's strategies, allotment communities in Greater London appear to be in a good position with regards to protection of existing allotment sites. In particular, the London Plan stresses that none of London's green spaces, of which allotments are part, should be encroached upon for development purposes. However, given the considerable predicted population and economic growth, there will continue to be considerable pressure to obtain land for development. Allotment communities will still need to be aware of any development proposals in their area, particularly if they are located within an Opportunity Area or an Area for Intensification. The London Plan states, however, that when green spaces are required for development, an equivalent or better alternative must be provided.
2.As regards new allotment sites, there is no formal policy regarding their creation in the London Plan, though some of the other strategies, particularly the Bio-Diversity Strategy, do make very encouraging statements about the benefits of allotments and their potential expansion.
3.There are considerable opportunities for allotment communities to promote themselves, to increase usage and to strengthen their ties within the local community, thereby strengthening the case for their protection and for development of new allotment sites. These opportunities arise mainly in the areas of health, education, social inclusion, bio-diversity and community-building. Many of these opportunities will need to be developed through working with a range of partners and linking in to new or existing initiatives.
4.The current 'green' context - in which sustainable development is the issue of the moment - favours allotments. Allotments have many aspects that are 'sustainable' and should seek to capitalise on this advantage.
1.That allotment communities need to be aware of development proposals in their locality, particularly if they are located in an Opportunity Area, an Area for Intensification, an Area for Regeneration or the Thames Gateway Area. Allotment communities need to foster good links with their borough planning departments and seek to make their voices heard in the formulation of borough UDPs and Sub-Regional Frameworks.
2.That the GLAF presses for a formal and specific policy on allotments to be included in the London Plan at the next review.
3.That the GLAF and its members promote the benefits and increase the usage of allotment sites through partnership working and initiatives in the following areas: health; education; social inclusion; bio-diversity; and community building.
All the Mayor's strategies and reports listed above, plus others of interest, can be found on the GLA website: www.london.gov.uk .
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