The statutory and policy criteria councils must meet in order to obtain the Secretary of State’s consent to dispose of allotment land.
Allotments are valuable community spaces that provide people with the opportunity to enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle. As such there are many legal and policy safeguards in place to make sure that their disposal is properly and thoroughly handled by the Secretary of State. This guidance replaces the letter sent to local authority chief executives in February 2002 and sets out, much more robustly, the factors the Secretary of State will consider when deciding whether to give consent.
The additional detail, not provided in the letter of February 2002, will provide much greater accountability and transparency: both for local authorities, allotment holders and members of the public wanting to know how decisions have been reached. The guidance also explains how councils and local residents can make good use of the new community rights introduced by the Localism Act 2011 including neighbourhood planning and Community Right to Bid.
The criteria themselves haven’t been altered but their scope has been clarified: so, for example, the requirement for waiting lists to be taken into account will now be rigorously applied to all that council’s waiting lists, not just the waiting list for the site to be disposed of. This aims to ensure that poorly maintained sites are not used to justify disposal. Suitable alternatives to disposal are provided in Section 4 of the guidance where low demand is a genuine problem.
The application form is to be used by local authorities wishing to seek consent from the Secretary of State to dispose of any statutory allotment land they currently manage. Disposal refers to the sale or lease of such land or an intended change of use. The accompanying guidance assists with the completion of the form.