Huge demand for allotments while many are vacant

From left, Charlotte Tipping from World Vision HQ, organiser of the lunch Sue Tinney, chef Sam Kemp, Alan Mak MP and Amy Johnson from the World Vision Advocacy Team 

Picture:  Malcolm Wells (170922-2862)

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HUNDREDS of would-be gardeners are waiting for a plot at an allotment despite 81 people having more than one.

And while 551 people remain on the list there are 33 plots vacant across seven sites in Gosport and Lee-on-the-Solent.

It comes at a time of an increase in demand and strain on space in the borough.

At the 358-plot allotment in Brockhurst there are 18 people on the waiting list but 14 vacancies, while 28 people have more than one plot.

Liberal Democrat cllr Robert Hylands is a Brockhurst ward member and sits on the allotments group at Gosport Borough Council.

He said: ‘There is, on occasion, difficulty when it comes down to actually clearing people out of plots.

‘If they’re vacant then they’ll probably have offer letters out on them.

‘There is a bigger demand for allotment plots.

‘It would be handier if they could turn them over quicker but being a local authority they have to follow certain procedures and certain rules.’

Cllr Hylands added more allotments could be provided in the Alver Valley.

Plots that are not cultivated are taken back and given to someone on the waiting list.

To cope, the size of plots at the 10 allotments in the borough has been halved over the years to create more.

At the 176-plot Camden site, at St. Ann’s Crescent, there are 35 people on the waiting list, with 10 vacancies – but 13 people have more than one.

The longest list is in Lee-on-the-Solent, with 171 people waiting, with just two vacant plots at the 108-plot site.

And eight people have more than one plot.

Tory cllr Roger Allen sits on the allotment group.

He said: ‘What we’re trying to do is get more land, accommodate people that way.

‘In Gosport we don’t have a lot of land.

‘Usually we manage but in the last couple years we’ve had a sudden upsurge.

‘I think it’s got something to do with the fact that food prices have increased, people want to grow their own.’

Steven Broughton is vice-chair of the allotments group. He said the process to vacate plots should be looked at, as it can taken more than a year to re-allocate one that has not been cultivated.