OCTOBER 16, 2009: A think tank is urging the Government to dramatically expand the number of public allotments by building on brownfield sites and encouraging landowners to donate unused holdings to their local community.
With 100,000 people currently on a waiting list for an allotment, the New Local Government Network (NLGN) is calling for the Government and local councils to make better use of the estimated 3,500 hectares of unused brownfield land – the equivalent size of 25 Hyde Parks – to create new community allotments. NLGN also calls upon the Government to offer tax incentives for landowners to allow allotments to be built on unused sections of their property. Currently the Royal Family owns 677,000 acres of land and, although some of it is already used for farming, NLGN claims that more of its unused last could be turned into allotments. The think tank also suggests that, should a voluntary system not work, the Government should consider a Large Private Estates Commission which could have the power to temporarily transfer unused plots of private land to the local community for agricultural use. Call to share more land Director of the NLGN, Chris Leslie, said: “With 1% of landowners owning 70% of land in the UK, we would like to see the Government encourage them to share a small portion of it with people in their local communities.” The NLGN report also calls for local councils to encourage ‘edible landscaping’, including the creation of more roof gardens, and calls for the expansion of schemes such as the ‘Landshare’ website which allows landowners to offer land for people to grow their own food. The New Local Government Network (NLGN) was founded in 1996 by a group of senior local government figures whose aim was to make local government more relevant and credible to local people. A not-for-profit making, independent think tank, it seeks to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities. * Last year Country Smallholding ran a campaign calling on the Government and councils to do more to ensure provision of allotments.