The number of people on Preston’s allotment waiting list has trebled in the past four years, but the city council have refused to provide more sites.
A Freedom of Information request found 349 people are waiting for a plot, and some face a massive wait of ten years to get one.
The FOI revealed that the average wait is four to five years but this does not include the increased demand since 2007.
The waiting list for an allotment in Preston has increased from 126 people in 2007, 286 in 2009, 251 in 2010, 320 in 2011 to 349 in Feb 2012.
Dave Morris, North West representative for the National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners, (NSALG) said: “Our guidelines suggest that the ratio for allotments to people should be twenty allotments per 1,000 households. Preston’s ratio is currently 10 allotments per 1,000 households. Therefore, to meet the national average (fourteen per 1,000 households) the council have to provide 240 more plots.
“The council have failed to recognise the surge in demand of allotments and the situation is going to get worse if they do not act now.”
There are 505 allotments available over nine sites across the city, including two areas in Penwortham, one in Deepdale, four on Blackpool Road and one in Sharoe Green.
Chris Taylor, secretary of the Penwortham Holme West allotment site, said: “The council won’t build any new plots because they have no money and are soon to have less. It’s not seen as an essential way of spending money.
“It seems an easy and cheap enough job to create allotments but once you factor in securing the site, providing water and other costs it all mounts up.”
Steve Smith, senior ranger for the council, defended their policy.
He said: “Where possible, larger plots have been split into two regular plots to provide more allotments. We are also giving out a handbook and offering training on ways to improve cultivation.
“Allotments have become incredibly popular over the past few years for a number of reasons; from global concerns about food miles and the use of chemicals in food production to the fact that it’s good fun, great exercise and almost certainly one of the cheapest hobbies. We recognise more people in interested in owning an allotment and are looking into ways to deal with it.”
TV presenter and former Gardener’s World host Alan Titchmarsh said allotments were vital for communities.
He said: “The ability to grow our own food should be open to all of us, and local authority
allotments provide cultivation opportunities for those who do not have a garden at home.
“Finding land can be difficult, but every local authority has an obligation to provide space for food production, and it would be noice to think that they would actively encourage such a worthy goal.
“Cultivating an allotment is healthy, productive and sociable. All things
that go towards making a happy community.”
Do you have an allotment? Are you waiting for an allotment? Let us know your views in the comments below.