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How much will an allotment cost in 2021?

Allotment rents will be £0.60/m2.

The largest plots are 250m2, while a majority of plots in Stevenage are less than 100m2

2021 prices for 100m2 and 250m2 allotment plots in Stevenage
 
  Full Rate With Concession
  Per Year Per Week Per Year Per Week
250m2 £150.00 £2.88 £112.50 £2.16
100m2 £60.00 £1.15 £45.00 £0.86

Why are the rents going up so much?

The Council has begun a review of fees and charges across all services, in response to a number of factors, including:

  • the financial pressures resulting from the pandemic;
  • the impact of Brexit; and
  • withdrawal of government grants to help support the delivery of Council services.

The Council is working hard to secure its financial stability at this time, and is having to make some very difficult decisions.

We are constantly promoting new, more efficient ways of working, but have also had to consider service reductions and increases to some of our fees and charges. Fees and charges need to reflect the cost of the services provided. The Council has a duty to set a budget each year that balances what it receives with what it spends. We are not allowed to make a loss.

Allotments are one of the services that have always been heavily subsidised, and unfortunately we are not in a position to continue with this going forward.

In addition, the allotments were previously managed by the Stevenage Gardens and Allotments Association, which helped to reduce costs to the Council. They provided us with notice that they were no longer in a position to continue with this arrangement, and we have taken the service back in-house, which has resulted in additional costs to us.

When and how did we notify plot holders?

We sent out a newsletter, and posters were installed to site notice boards to notify plot holders that invoices wouldn’t be sent out in December as normal, but instead would be sent in February.

No consultation was undertaken with the Allotment Association (SGAA). The current Chair wrote to us in June 2020 to advise that he would not be available for consultation with SBC and requested that we did not contact him any further. This was somewhat disappointing as we have always had a very good relationship with SGAA in the past.

What concessions are available?

The current Concessions Policy was introduced in 2016. Residents who receive means tested benefits are entitled to a 25% discount. The list of means tested benefits that will apply for a concession are:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based - Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income Related – Employment Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit – Guaranteed Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit

If people are unable to continue to afford their current plot(s) we would ask them to contact us so that we can look to move them to a smaller, more affordable plot.

If your rent invoice does not state whether a concessionary rate has been applied and you are on benefits, please let us know. You will be required to provide evidence of your benefit receipt.

What do we get for our money?

The Council has invested significantly in allotments in the past 10 years with sites now benefitting from:

  • secure sites;
  • good water supply;
  • notice boards;
  • on-site parking at many sites; and
  • toilet facilities on 9 sites.

It is broadly recognised that Stevenage provides some of the best allotment facilities in Hertfordshire.

We now also have a dedicated part-time allotment support officer to manage the administration functions.

What about the health benefits?

We fully appreciate the health benefits that allotments can provide – to support both physical and mental wellbeing. The importance of having good access to green spaces for exercise and respite has proven invaluable throughout the continuing pandemic.

We have worked closely with Volunteer Site Agents and even with some challenges, we have been very fortunate to be able to keep the allotments open throughout and there is currently a high demand for plots.

How does the cost of allotments compare with other leisure activities?

Allotments will continue to offer good value for money particularly in comparison to other leisure activities in Stevenage. For example:

  • Walking football £4 / 1hr session
  • Workout class £5.30 / 1hr session
  • Table tennis £9.50 / occasion
  • 250m2 Allotment (@ £0.60/m2) £0.41 / day or £2.88 / week

We recognise that there are still costs to purchase seed and fertiliser etc. but we understand that SGAA are aiming to reopen the allotment shop at Lawrence Avenue. The shop offers good value for money on a range of allotment related goods.

Is there a waiting list for allotments?

Yes, we currently have over 400 people waiting for an allotment in Stevenage.