Issues and Guidance
62. The local nature of allotment provision means
that issues of land-use, planning and planning guidance are critical.
Planning Policy Guidance Notes set out the Government's policies
on different aspects of planning. They are taken into account
by local authorities when preparing development plans and may
also be used in making decisions on individual planning applications
and appeals. There appears to be a consensus that the existing
Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) Notes fail to offer adequate direction
to local authorities attempting to reconcile the various demands
for land. The
two PPGs of relevance are PPG3 (Housing) and PPG17 (Sport and
Recreation). Of these, only PPG3 currently makes explicit reference
to allotment provision, noting that:
"Parks, playing fields,
informal open spaces, allotments and private gardens can all be
of great importance to the character of a neighbourhood ... Planning
policies should, therefore, seek to achieve a reasonable balance
between the need to make adequate provision for development, and
the need to protect open land from development ...".
63. Within Unitary Development Plans and Local Plans,
allotments may currently be assigned to one of a number of different
categories, for example, 'Land in Open Use'. We are concerned
that such designations are failing to reflect the specific importance
of allotment sites within a local community. Also, we note in
the next section of this Report the concerns over 'temporary'
allotment sites which have been used as allotments for many decades
but which may be lost with very little notice.
64. We believe that the planning guidance with
regard to allotments should be made much more explicit, particularly
since allotment land is the principal category of urban green
space which is being eroded. We urge that fuller and better guidance
on the role of allotments be incorporated into the current revision
of Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 (Housing). In particular, we
recommend that PPG3 includes specific advice that 'statutory'
allotment sites should be clearly designated within Unitary Development
Plans and Local Plans. 'Temporary' sites should be marked with
their final intended use along with an approximate date for the
change of use.
65. Allotments form a significant component of most
local authorities' recreational provision. As noted above,
they play an important role in providing fresh vegetables, physical
exercise and social activity for plot-holders. We are encouraged
by the Department's acknowledgement that PPG17 may require revision
and that this could include improved guidance with regard to allotments:
this possibility was welcomed by the Local Government Association.
We strongly recommend that the Department of the Environment,
Transport and the Regions press ahead with the revision of Planning
Policy Guidance Note 17 (Sport and Recreation) and incorporate
specific guidance on the role of allotments.