Backlash to proposed 400 per cent St Albans allotment price hike

Deborah Catchpole's allotment

Deborah Catchpole's allotment - Credit: Archant

A proposed 400 per cent allotment price increase for St Albans has met with a furious backlash from users, who have described the hike as “unjustified” and the growing spaces as “invaluable”.

St Albans district council’s city neighbourhoods committee (CNC) is currently considering four five-year allotment price plans from 2018 onwards.

It is currently £47.20 a year for a full 252sqm to 190sqm plot, but by 2022 it will cost either £62.80 under option one, £80 under option two, £160 under option three, or £240 in option four.

If option four is chosen, that is approximately a 400 per cent increase on current prices.

St Albans Cllr Edgar Hill has hit back at the proposal, demanding the figures be reworked: “Allotments are a vital part of our city’s heritage and an invaluable resource for families to stay healthy by growing their own food and exercising outdoors.

“We should be providing more space and encouraging more people outdoors, not the other way around, which is what these totally unjustified proposed increases would do if actually implemented.”

St Albans Cllr Robert Donald agreed: “Allotments also help to preserve our local open spaces and Green Belt boundaries from other inappropriate building development.

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“These proposals run in the face of this, and raise suspicions that the administration maybe trying to reduce the popularity of allotments in a bid to sell them off for financial gain or development purposes.”

Three years ago Leeds City Council lost a legal battle against the Leeds and District Allotment Gardeners Federation after it tried to double allotment prices from £38.50 a year in 2013, to £58 in 2014 and £72 in 2016.

Chair of the CNC, St Albans Cllr Alun Davies, said he “absolutely does not want to discourage” allotment holding: “I am very much in favour of allotments, and I am not driving behind any agenda to get rid of them.

“That said, when you look at them they are being heavily subsidised by the council, it does look like we are subsidising them more than other councils, and there has to be a happy medium - where the allotment holders are happy but are also paying their fair share.”

He added that he personally would not be voting for the 400 per cent increase.