According to the National Allotment Society: “An allotment is an area of land, leased either from a private or local authority landlord, for the use of growing fruit and vegetables.” But just how intensively do you need to work the land? Well a judge has just decided that down in Hastings on the South Coast cultivating 13 fruit trees on a 250 square metre allotment with only grass in between them doesn’t meet the local council’s rule that at least 75% of any allotment must be cultivated and the soil must be planted with productive crops or other plants. As a result, the allotment holder, a Mr Michael Rock, can be evicted. Paul Taylor, Senior Partner of Kidd Rapinet and a property specialist at the firm’s London office, comments: “On the face of it a mildly comical dispute, but there is more to it than just a storm in a teacup.”
The 75% rule was introduced in 2012 to stop plot holders from neglecting their plots which otherwise would be handed to others on the waiting list. Mr Rock, an allotment holder since 2007, told Hastings County Court, during an appeal against an eviction notice, that he decided in 2008 to stop growing vegetables and instead planted 13 fruit trees. The judge dismissed the appeal and upheld the eviction notice, and, for good measure, ordered Mr Rock to pay £750 in court costs. Paul Taylor comments: “It’s not immediately clear whether planting other crops in between the trees would have satisfied the Council, or whether planting even more fruit trees closer together would have done the trick.” Mr Rock has pledged to fight on, taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
If you feel you would like to know more about allotment holders’ rights and obligations, call Paul Taylor at Kidd Rapinet on 020 7265 5461 for further information.