Action needed on growing demand for allotments

A Holyrood Committee has called for the Scottish Government to demonstrate increased leadership and oversight in the delivery of the Community Empowerment Act (“The Act”), as a new report exposes significant unmet demand for allotments and growing spaces across Scotland.
Committee Convener Ariane Burgess MSPCommittee Convener Ariane Burgess MSP
Committee Convener Ariane Burgess MSP

Seven years after its introduction, the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee has undertaken an inquiry into the Act, examining whether it has improved the availability of allotments and reduced barriers to accessing them.

The report highlights the benefits that access to land for growing can have on people’s health, the environment, food security, and on communities.

Despite positive developments since the Act came into force, the Committee found that further action is now needed if the ambitions contained in it are to be met.

Evidence revealed that the pandemic had led to a further surge in demand and the emerging cost-of-living crisis is also expected to drive up the need for growing spaces .

The inquiry heard that demand for allotment space is even more acute in Scotland’s cities, with the number of people on waiting lists in Edinburgh almost doubling since 2019, rising from 3,000 to 5,600 and Aberdeen’s waiting list increasing over six-fold, from 150 to 1,000 people in 5 years.

With demand for allotments and growing space far outstripping supply, the Committee has warned that broader Scottish Government plans for developing community growing, food growth strategies and improving access to land are all being held back.

The Committee made several recommendations in its report for the Scottish Government, as well as proposing actions for local government.

Committee Convener Ariane Burgess MSP said: “Scotland’s appetite for improved access to allotments and growing space is flourishing, in part due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also due to the rising cost-of-living and levels of food insecurity facing people across the country.

“Our hope is that this report prepares the ground for real change and that the Scottish Government demonstrate increased leadership and a renewed commitment to the Act to deliver on its own food growth and wellbeing ambitions.”