Bexley is the first Council area to have all of its allotment sites registered as ‘assets of community value’ under the Localism Act 2011, thanks to Bexley Federation of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (BFALG). This does not prevent them being sold off, but does mean that plotholders would have a right to submit a bid to purchase a site were it to be put up for sale. Whilst the cost would be prohibitive, this move is seen as adding a measure of protection and would buy some time whilst groups were given the chance to organise and try and finance any bid.
Back in 2004 Bexley Council’s then Labour administration sought to sell off half the allotment sites in the Borough, and turf plotholders off the rest whilst they bulldozed them and generally ‘tarted them up’ before re-letting. This lunacy was stopped after a long-running public outcry, well-supported by the local press. We now know that allotment sites are hugely important for wildlife in the Borough such as protected reptiles and amphibians, thanks to dedicated recent survey work, and other fast-declining species such as Hedgehogs.
There is one individual allotment site in Leeds listed as such an asset, but Bexley is believed to now be well out in front with this admirable initiative by BFALG.
The surge in interest in allotments in the early 2000’s may have left people with the impression that there are still massive waiting lists and it isn’t worth applying for a plot. In fact there are around 70 vacant plots in Bexley at present, both full and half-sized, across a number of different sites, so if you’ve been considering getting yourself an allotment please do contact the Council’s allotment department now:
Site closures are far less likely if sites are pretty fully tenanted most of the time. Do bear in mind though that it’s not the 5 minute job implied by ‘glossy’ TV gardening programmes, and a fair amount of year-round work is required!