Research commissioned but unpublished by the previous Government that has been put online today reveals that in the period 1996 to 2006 the number of allotment plots fell by 50,630.
This legacy of decline has made it increasingly difficult for people to live the good life. Today 59 people are waiting for every 100 plots in contrast to 1996 when there was an average of 4 people waiting for every 100 plots.
The Government is committed to turning this situation around and ensuring that allotments remain available to communities for years to come.
New neighbourhood planning powers currently being trailed across the country provide communities with a means to boost the number of sites with powers to protect existing allotments and identify new plots. In addition requirements for councils to provide allotments will be safeguarded as part of a wider review into reducing statutory burdens on local authorities.
The new right for communities to create a neighbourhood plan is being introduced in the Localism Bill. It will allow local people to set out the exact locations of sites that can be used for new allotments and those sites they want protected in the future. Once a neighbourhood plan had been independently assessed and passed by the community in a local referendum, a council will be obliged to adopt the plan.
Mr Clark said:
"More and more people want to grow their own vegetables but sites are becoming unnecessarily difficult to come by. We need to stop this decline in allotments especially as people are so eager to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
"People who get behind Neighbourhood Planning and develop a plan have real powers to not only protect existing sites but create more plots for the whole community to enjoy."
Donna McDaid, National Secretary of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners said:
"It is great news that people can now help ensure allotments remain available to communities for years to come. We are always being told to be environmentally friendly and to reduce our carbon footprint wherever we can and allotments can go a long way in helping us achieve that.
"There is growing interest in community grown food, and allotments have an important role in providing space for groups to grow their own produce."
About 300,000 people are already using allotments, which have an important role to play in helping to reduce carbon emissions. The combined plots in England and Wales are capable of producing more than 240,000 tons of food. The same amount of imported produce is equivalent to 116 journeys by 40 ton articulated lorries each week.
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