Current planning policy guidance on allotments and open space is set out in PPG17: Open Space, Sport and Recreation, published in 2002. This provides enhanced protection from development for all types of open space. In particular, PPG17 indicates that open space should not be built on unless an assessment has been undertaken that has clearly shown that the open space is surplus to requirements. It also includes specific policies to protect playing fields from development. These policies are supported by the Town and Country Planning (Playing Fields) (England) Direction 1998 which gives the Secretary of State for Communities and local government the power to call in planning applications affecting playing fields where local authorities have not resolved Sport England's objections.
Allotments are included in the typology of open spaces to which the policies in PPG17 to protect open space apply. In addition, statutory allotments are protected via section 8 of the Allotments Act 1925 which requires that local authorities seek the Secretary of State's consent for disposal or appropriation to another use. Consent cannot be given unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that certain criteria are met. Clarified criteria were issued to local authorities in February 2001.
The options for consolidating existing allotments legislation were considered following the DETR Select Committee Report, “The Future of Allotments”, in 1998, and it was decided that the best way to clarify the legislation was by promoting best practice. A good practice guide on the management of allotments and a guide for plot holders were published in 2001.