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Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 1 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) if he will make it his policy to ensure that district authorities in Lancashire publish their waiting lists for local authority-provided allotments; what recent assessment he has made of local authorities' performance in the provision of allotments; and what formula his Department provides for local authorities to determine the number of allotments each should provide; (287690)

(2) if he will estimate the number of allotments which each district authority in Lancashire should provide under the formula prepared by his Department; and if he will estimate the number of allotments each such local authority provides.

Local authorities are responsible for keeping and managing waiting lists for allotments they provide. We have no plans to direct local authorities to publish their waiting lists.

Information on the number of allotments provided by local authorities is not held centrally. The provision of allotments is the responsibility of local authorities; Section 23 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 places a duty on local authorities (except for inner London boroughs) to provide allotments where they perceive a demand for them in their area.

Government do not provide a formula for local authorities to determine the number of allotments they should provide. However, the Planning Policy Guidance Note 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation 2002 (PPG17) requires local authorities to make provision for all types of open space and requires them to undertake robust assessments of local needs and audits of existing open space, to establish standards for new provision. Setting national standards for provision cannot cater for local circumstances, such as differing demographic profiles and the extent of building development in an area. The accompanying guidance to PPG17 advises local authorities on setting local standards.

A revised good practice guide, “Growing in the Community”, was published by the Local Government Association in March 2008, and includes a section on allotment provision and how to assess the need for allotments as outlined in PPG17.