Allotments and the law

The law relating to allotments is contained in the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908, the Allotments Act 1922, the Allotments Act 1925 and the Allotments Act 1950. General planning laws will also apply to allotments. This article looks at some of the main provisions of the legislation.

The duty of councils to provide allotments

Under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 councils are under a duty to provide a sufficient number of allotments if they are of the opinion that there is demand for allotments in their borough, urban district or parish. They are also required to let such allotments to residents of their boroughs, districts and parishes who wish to take on an allotment.

The Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 gives councils the power to purchase land including the power to purchase compulsory land for the purpose of providing allotments.

If 6 or more residents, who are either on the electoral register or who are liable to pay council tax, in any one borough, urban district or parish make written representations to the council as to the provision of allotments, the council is under a duty to take their representations into account when deciding whether there are a sufficient number of allotments available.

However, where a council is of the opinion that there is demand for allotments in their borough, urban district or parish, they are not under an obligation to make land available for allotments within a specific time limit.

In addition to their duties under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 local authorities are required to assess the need for and audit their provision of allotments in their area as part of Planning Policy Guidance 17. As part of Planning Policy Guidance 17 local authorities should not allow allotments to be built on unless an assessment has been undertaken and that such assessment clearly shows that the allotments are surplus to requirements.

The letting of allotments

Rules as to the letting of allotments

Under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 councils have the power to make such rules as appear to be necessary or proper for the purpose of regulating the letting of allotments, and for preventing any undue preference in the letting of allotments. A council can, for example, make rules as to eligibility of tenants and make rules as to how their allotments should be cultivated.

Hens and rabbits

Under the Allotments Act 1950 allotment holders have the right to keep hens and rabbits on their allotments for personal use and to erect and place such buildings or structures on the land as is reasonably necessary for the keeping of such animals. However, this right does not authorise the keeping of such animals in such a place or in such a manner which would be prejudicial to health or be a nuisance.

Damage to allotments

Under the Allotments Act 1950 a landlord is entitled to compensation if an allotment holder allows the allotment to deteriorate.

The subletting of allotments

Under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 an allotment cannot be sublet unless the council’s consent has been obtained.

Security of tenure

The Allotments Act 1922 gives allotment holders some security of tenure. Their tenancies cannot be terminated unless:

    at least 6 months’ notice to quit has been given to the allotment holder expiring on or before 6 April or on or after 29 September in any year; or there is a power of re-entry and at least 3 months’ written notice as been given to the allotment holder and the land is required for building, mining or any other industrial purpose or for roads or sewers necessary in connection with such purposes; or there is a power of re-entry and the land is let by a corporation or company who owns or leases a railway, dock, canal, water, or other public undertaking and the land is required by the corporation or company for a purpose, other than an agricultural purpose, for which it was acquired.

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For more information on:

  • Compensation
  • Sale of allotments