Councillors are being asked to agree to the formal adoption of a Countywide Allotment Policy at a Cabinet meeting next week.
Durham County Council invited people to have their say on its new policy to standardise the management of allotment sites in a consultation which took place from October to December 2011.
A total of 1,363 postal questionnaires were issued with 526 returns giving a response rate of 38.6%. 290 people also responded online.
In general, the proposed new policy was well received and it was clear that a more robust system would be welcomed by all those involved with allotments in the county.
It is hoped that the revised policy will see rents, rules and enforcement regulated across the council’s 175 directly let allotment sites.
A previous review of these sites found that arrangements varied between different areas, leading in some cases to plots being misused or neglected.
The new proposals introduce a standard lettings arrangement, covering eligibility and levels of rent, and also establish standard rules on the use of allotments, including the type of buildings erected and the keeping of animals.
Whilst there has clearly been some support for the original policy, as a result of the consultation a number of further issues have emerged which have been incorporated into a revised version. These include: changes to co-worker and transfer arrangements, which sites the policy will apply to, criminal and anti-social behaviour procedures, use of barbed wire, use and supply of water and allowing the use of large animals (dogs, horses, ponies and donkeys) on sites.
Cllr Maria Plews, Cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, said: “We want residents to get the best out of their plots and crucial to this is the management of the sites.
“The revised policy will benefit all tenants as the same rules will apply across each location to ensure the consistent running of allotments across the county.”
The council will shortly be writing to all tenants to describe arrangements for entering into new tenancy agreements, as well as describing the key changes that will be made to the agreements in accordance with the outcomes of the consultation exercise.
Looking to the future, the council will be encouraging more local management of sites, either through Town and Parish Councils or Allotment Associations.
Cabinet members will be asked to agree to the formal adoption of a Countywide Allotment Lettings Policy, and to agree to implement the policy in a planned and timely manner when they meet on 12 September.