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Volume 408: debated on Thursday 3 July 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proposals the Government has (a) to protect and (b) to enhance the (i) provision and (ii) standards of allotment sites. [123306]

Allotments are protected under Section 8 of the Allotments Act 1925 which requires consent from my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister before a local authority can dispose of statutory allotments. Consent decisions for the disposal of statutory allotments are made against criteria aimed at ensuring that allotments that are needed are not disposed of. These criteria have been strengthened and clarified following public consultation in 2001.The provision of allotments is determined locally by allotment authorities. The Small Holdings and Allotments Act (1908) places a duty on local authorities to provide sufficient allotments, according to local demand. In addition Planning Policy Guidance note 17: Open Space, Sport and Recreation, indicates that local authorities should assess the existing and future needs of their communities for all open spaces of public value, including allotments. Local authorities should then plan to meet those identified needs.The Government have also published "Growing in the community: a good practice guide for the management of allotments", which was published in June 2001, and which provides comprehensive advice for local authorities on all aspects of allotment management. We have also published "Allotments: a plot holders' guide", which provides advice to current and potential allotment plot holders.