An allotment plot is a piece of land, traditionally 250 square metres in size, which can be rented for growing fruit and vegetables for you and your family. Sometimes sites provide smaller patches for people who can't manage a whole plot.
Local Authorities are the statutory providers of allotments but parish / town councils will often oversee and administrate. However, groups are increasingly self-organising to start new allotments on privately owned sites.
There are typically about 1000 people on waiting lists for an allotment in Somerset at any one time, so organising to start a new site in areas of need is a hugely useful thing a small group of people can achieve.
Allotments are a resource for:
• Providing a sustainable food supply
• Promoting healthy activity for all ages
• Educational purposes
• Fostering community support and cohesiveness
• Providing access to nature and wildlife
• Open space for local communities
How to find your nearest allotment site
Contact your town or parish council, who should be aware of statutory and private allotments locally.
Somerset Council manage some allotment sites and provide a list of allotments in towns and rural areas. This is not comprehensive, although you can contact them to add your site to the list.
Transition Town Wellington have created a list of Allotments in the Taunton and West Somerset area, with extra detail on number of plots and waiting lists.
Parish Councils can add their sites to the National Allotment Map (not visible to the public at this stage).
Creating a new allotment site
In starting a new allotment project, you may wish to read our notes on organising in your community as well as the section on finding and securing land.
Please note that provided that land intended for allotments was previously agricultural land, planning permission is not required for allotments. Learn more about planning here.
The standard allotment plot in England and Wales is the ’10 pole plot’, which equates to 300 square yards, 250 square metres, or one sixteenth of an acre. The plot is often rectilinear in shape. This size of plot, properly husbanded, should feed a family of four for a year.
Recommended sizes from the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners are:
• Standard plot size - 250 square metres
• Paths - 1.4m to enable disabled access
• Haulage ways - 3m wide
• Allotment buildings - The size of the following, should generally be permitted without local authority approval
⁃ Plotholder's shed, 12 sq metres
⁃ Greenhouse, 15 sq metres
⁃ Polytunnel, 30 sq metres
The average rent for a 10 pole plot in England & Wales is £25-£40 per year. Raising extra funds for your site infrastructure may be necessary.
You will need to set up some form of contract and tenancy agreement. The legislation will still apply even if the land is privately owned especially if tenants have been served ‘notice to quit’ - this must be 12 months. Read more about tenancy agreements.
Inspiring examples in Somerset
Forge Rhyne Allotments, near Highbridge. Due to a long waiting list for local allotments a small group of people came together in 2022. After a shout out in the local media they connected with a local landowner. They now rent the land and are established as a co-operative Allotment Society and all plots are taken.
During the Somerset Land and Food Project, a number of sites got started in Somerset. You can read their stories below.
Diggers Field, Langport: Digger's Field are an Allotment Society near Langport in South Somerset who started in April 2010 to provide affordable access to land where local people can grow their own food. Their local town council didn't have allotments and nearby site in Huish Episcopi had a long waiting list. Now all 26 allotments are let and cultivated.
Lyewater Allotments, Crewkerne: Jason Balfour pulled together a wider group of people and successfully negotiated a free 5 year lease to start Lyewater Allotments. The site is still in active use, more information here.
Lytes Cary Community Allotments, South Somerset
Implementing the National Trust’s “Go Local” campaign aimed at reconnecting people with the land, Simon Larkin saw an opportunity to put this into practice by opening new allotments at National Trust property Lytes Cary. Having seen posters locally calling for space to grow food he saw an opportunity to engage and offer something back to the local community. Cultivation on 40 plots began in March 2010, reconnecting local people with the land and a growing community has evolved.
The 2 plots dedicated for community use welcome active involvement from pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, volunteer working parties and other disadvantaged groups; everyone benefits from using the outdoor space and growing fresh, local produce. The site is also open to all National Trust visitors to Lytes Cary.
Further sources of support & information
National Society for Allotment & Leisure Gardeners
South West Counties Allotment Association - low-cost insurance, constitution and policy information
Allotments Regeneration Initiative
Social Farms and Gardens allotment tookit / tenancy agreement example
Allotments: a plot holders guide