Monday, 7 February 2011

Green Tax 4 - A Fair Rent?

City of Edinburgh Council's first Allotment Strategy "Cultivating Communities" (2002) (p28) adopted the following "comparability factors" from the "Growing in the Community - A Good Practice Guide for the Management of Allotments" (produced by the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions, The Greater London Authority, the Local Government Association and Shell Better Britain Campaign (2001))

The three factors are:

- the level of allotment rents in the rest of Scotland and the scale in England

- costs of other outdoor recreational or leisure activities provided by the authority.

- rent concessions should be granted, on a published scale.

(I know that last one doesn't look like a comparability factor , but that's how it is written)

When the next City of Edinburgh Allotment Strategy "Cultivating Communities: A Growing Challenge 2010-2015" was published in 2010, setting in stone steep rent rises to £100 for the period up to 2014, no reference was made to these guiding principles.

So, how would they fare against these comparitors? Not an easy question as there is no central database of information. However various surveys have been run on blogs and allotment websites. They all show that Edinburgh is head and shoulders above the rest in pressing for higher rents.

Here is an extract of the figures from (of all places) (see link) who ran two threads in October 2010 and most recently  January 2011.

£25 per year
£35 for a 20X150 feet plot
£11 for 5m x 25m
£60ish last year in South Notts
£17.50 a year for a full plot
£40 a year for 259sqft
£30 a year
Our fees will stay at £11 this year
£25 in South Wales
£20 for a full plot (80’ x 40’) ..the next council area costs £60
**“I charge £100 for a full plot 30 x 90 feet” Private site owner
£25 annual fee
Up from £17 to £19 last autumn
£65 ish for a year for a full plot in London
£30 for a 30ft by 80ft app
Birmingham council are increasing from £24 to £75 over the next three years (You can buy a lot of veg for £75)
£15 for 20 rod
£35 annually for a full plot (Glasgow)
£35 including water (Leeds)
£35 per yr with water
£50ish Manchester
£40 Leeds
£20 for ½ plot North Notts
£28 this year £40 next year
£27.50 for a 5 rod plot including membership to the allotment society
**£125   10m x 12.5m  (a private allotment)

Leaving in the two private allotment sites** of £100 and £125 the average is still under £37. (Without them it would be £31) Both a lot less that the £70 we are paying in Edinburgh this year

City of Edinburgh Council are allowed to charge a fair rent for use as an allotment under the laws governing the regulation of allotments ,  not an arbitrary one. They must make reference to some other factors rather than the law of supply and demand. I've already shown they are completely out of step with the RPI, now it seems they are out of step with the rest of the UK. So where is the justification? I am calling my local Allotment Association (Lady Road) to demand a rent review - asap.


  1. I think that you are doing the right thing. If they are not questioned, the rents will keep going up until no one can afford them.

  2. Yes, good on you Mal.

    When I lived in France I noticed how much the French complained (in general!), and how if they didn't like something, they protested. The people truly appeared to control the government, to a certain extent, and I admired that about them so much.

    Over here the cost of living has skyrocketed in recent years, and we are getting more and more squeezed out of us each year with no commensurate rise in income levels. One example of this is the cost of water, which rose an incredible amount during the drought, and of course does not drop now the dams are overflowing.

    So good on you for questioning and protesting, I don't think there can ever be enough of it.

    Lol, end of rant!

  3. Seems that we are up there with you in Wakefield too - It just amazes me how variable it is. There are even different rents for different sites in Wakefield depending on amenities. We are rated at the top band as we have water on site, vehicle access and a fence (albeit broken down)

  4. I paid £17 this year for a full plot. Apparently that was a rise of £1 from last year and people were moaning about that!!! I think you are very definitely being ripped off.

  5. We had an increase this year too...I will post about it soon...we are still a lot cheaper than you.,...though not as cheap so some"!!


  6. I was one of those moneysavingexperts!

    I've got a plot in Glasgow for £25 per year so that's basically 50p a week for rent which is pretty good.

    At some point these price rises become uneconomic if you're trying to save money by growing your own. Maybe the council is trying to force you all out so prove that there is no demand for lotties and then they can build on your plots.

    BTW I'm all about saving money but also it's about health/excercise/fresh air/hobby. My gardening seems to be a lot cheaper than my other half's hobbies eg his annual fishing permit is £60 and add on a whole lot more for equipment (add to that he didn't actually catch a trout for my dinner last year!).

  7. Thanks for the encouragement from around the world (boy I never expected to write that sentence)and thanks Jane fo dropping by to prove there are real people behind these statistics.

    Glasgow is tracking the RPI and has a more enlightened policy than money grabbing Edinburgh (surprise?). All the benefits you list are there, but it still takes quite a bit cash layout (on top of the rent) and hard labour to get a return.

    p.s. That was my first and last post without a pic or illustration of any sort!

  8. PS I don't know how I would feel if the price rockets this year!!!

  9. Hi Mal, very convincing analysis you've done. I'm with you on this. I haven't paid my rent yet and think I will start by paying in instalments. I'm also going to contact my allotment association. Can I make use of your analysis, attributed to 'another Edinburgh allotment holder'?

  10. Hi Linda. Please do! I'm taking this to a vote on the Lady Road Association Committee and I'm referring them to any of my posts that start Green Tax. It's a bit of a struggle as the instigator of all this is Chairman of the Lady Road Association and Acting Chairman of FEDAGA.(Hi Peter!)