Who We Are

Alderley Edge Allotments & Gardens Society Ltd

Until mid 2020 the Alderley Edge Allotments and Gardens Society (AEAGS Ltd) ran three allotment sites in Alderley Edge on behalf of the Parish Council (AEPC). Currently, AEAGS Ltd has only one site at Heyes Lane that is leased from AEPC.The allotments have been in existence since 1918 and were split between full, half and quarter plots, the smaller being ideal to get started “growing your own”. Originally, the Heyes Lane site contained 16 plots but over the years the size of some plots has been reduced such that now, there are 34 cultivatable plots to meet the varying demands and capabilities of the ‘modern day’ plot holder.

History of The Allotments

It's thought that they date back to the time of the Saxons but it’s a series of The Inclosure Acts passed by Parliament in the 1800′s that defined the allotments as they are known today. There is no standard size to a plot; though the average is around 10 poles, an old measuring unit phased out as part of the metrication process in mid 1960′s. Each site can vary from one site to another not only on plot sizing, but also pricing and even rules. With some sites permitting livestock, such as chickens or bees, to other sites not even allowing permanent buildings like sheds or greenhouses to be erected.

The 4 August 1914 saw Britain declare war on Germany and, although allotments had existed in the UK from the 18th century, the ensuing food shortages lead to the creation of the local authority allotments that we recognise today. Their numbers have waned considerably but 100 years later working an allotment plot remains a popular pastime.

Allotment popularity grew during the Great War, as rations towards the end were introduced the government took over land were possible when it felt necessary it to do so. One such suitable source for allotments were the grassy verges owned by railway companies and the reason you will often see allotments by railway lines today. Popularity of the allotment decreased until the Second World War, when the need for allotments was even greater, the famous ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was launched and every possible piece of land was taken over, including public parks.

Again their demand began to decline, the rations ended, Britain was to become more self-sufficient as agriculture changed. Better farming machinery, bigger fields as hedgerows were removed and the introduction to pesticides and herbicides meant food was in abundance. Families didn’t want to spend all their free time growing their own food with such convenience, the number of allotments began to dwindle as the increasing demand for building land grow.

Contemporary allotments do more than provide food, the healthy lifestyle they encourage helps to combat several of the challenges facing 21 century populations – obesity, inactivity and mental health problems resulting from social isolation cost the UK economy billions of pound every year; £9 billion is spent dealing with adult depression alone and obesity costs the NHS £5 billion. Allotments and allotment services have the potential to support delivery of many local authority Public Health targets, not only around nutrition but around emotional resilience and exercise, especially for our ageing population.

This contribution that allotments make to the health and well-being of people and the quality of the environment is generally acknowledged and has been endorsed by many studies but there is much competition for land in our crowded urban environments and, although protected by legislation, allotments are vulnerable. The Society does have concerns that the recent relaxation of the Planning Regulations along with the pressure on local councils to build much needed new homes may result in more councils opting to sell allotment land rather than allocating previously used land for that purpose.

This could mean dismantling thriving, socially cohesive allotment communities that, as recent research has shown, are situated on land that is high in bio-diversity with healthy soil, producing a significant amount of locally grown food. Although legislation dictates that the plot-holders must be offered an alternative growing space it does not take in to account the historical value and sense of place of the site or the damage that is done to the existing social networks. The Society feels that this element needs to be recognised and existing allotment sites should be valued and protected from disruption.

Today allotments are very much sought-after once again, its said the waiting list is roughly 86,787 people for 152,442 plots but numbers could be a lot higher as a survey done in 2011 didn’t include the parish or private allotments and 66% of the authorities didn’t hold waiting list data. As the numbers continue to grow and the demand cannot be met some authorities have closed its list after it reached over a 10-year wait for an available plot.

The National Society welcomed the ministerial statement on the 6 March 2014 from Nick Boles who announced an update to the local planning guidelines, where he stressed the importance of bringing brownfield land into use and made clear that authorities do not have to allocate development sites on the basis of providing the maximum possible return for landowners and developers; the society hopes that this will mean a reduction in the number of allotments sites earmarked for development.

The NAS aims to protect, promote and preserve allotments and we call on all those who value allotments to support us in this endeavour, we can all do our part-

Allotment associations – protect your site, register as a community asset. Allotment Federations -keep allotments in the public eye, make sure they are mentioned in the Local Plan, and lobby your councillors and MPs.

Councils preserve and value your allotment service – it has the potential to deliver some of your public health targets.

Plot-holders -join the National Allotment Society and support your regional allotment network to promote the allotment movement.

Where to Find Us

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