Plans to improve allotments across County Durham will be discussed by councillors when they meet next week.
Durham County Council’s Cabinet will consider additional support for allotment associations, grant schemes, and updated tenancy agreements to make the most of these important community assets.
Following a review by the authority’s environment and sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee in 2020, there has already been significant investment made to improve how the sites are monitored and to better communicate with tenants.
Additional staff have been employed and an allotments maintenance team has been established.
The team has already got to work making repairs to the sites thanks to an increase in funding made available for maintenance activities, such as getting plots ready for cultivation, pathways, fencing, and rubbish clearance.
A grant scheme will also be introduced to support allotment associations looking to complete improvement works on the sites they manage.
At its next meeting on Wednesday, January 18, cabinet will consider an updated policy and tenancy agreement that will eventually be rolled out to all council allotment tenants, replacing a mix of agreements that were inherited from the district councils in 2009.
While the majority will be unaffected by the updated arrangements, a transition framework will ensure tenants have a reasonable period to make any changes on their plot that are needed to comply with the new tenancy agreement.
For all changes there will be an option for allotment associations to agree bespoke arrangements for their sites.
Discussions will take place with town and parish councils regarding the transfer of some allotment sites to them.
There will also be a more detailed review of certain sites to decide whether they should be retained as allotments.
Cllr James Rowlandson, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for resources, investment and assets, said: “We recognise the value that allotments have in the community and the benefits they can have on physical and mental wellbeing.
“Importantly, with the additional budget provision for more maintenance, we have been able to employ new staff who are already directly repairing fences, bringing plots back into use and increasing the availability of sites to help tackle the number of people on the waiting lists.
“Over the coming years the investments and changes proposed will ensure we can continue to provide quality allotment space for generations to come.”
If cabinet agrees the proposals, all existing allotment tenants will be informed of the changes in a letter that will explain which of the measures will apply to their site and when they can expect to see them implemented.