The Town Council first started to manage the allotments in 2005. There are currently 140 plots between the two sites of Park Farm Road and Tile Kiln Lane.
Below are some frequently asked questions about allotments.
Why should I rent an allotment?
You get to enjoy the freshest, tastiest produce; to grow varieties of vegetables and fruit that are not obtainable in shops; to enjoy healthy outdoor exercise; to stimulate your brain – you’re always learning; to be creative and have a sense of achievement; to make new friends with similar interests; to get away from everyday worries and stress.
I’d like an allotment but how long will I have to wait?When the Town Council took on the management of the allotments there were many plots unattended and over grown. However, after a lot of hard work and money, the allotments were brought up to a good standard. The allotments soon grew in popularity and now the waiting list is at about 100 which is an estimated wait time of 5 years.Why don’t you provide more land?
This is not a simple solution for the Town Council because allotment land is scarce – if you have any suggestions please let us know.
Why don’t you make the existing plots smaller, then there would be more to go around? We do try to encourage those who find it difficult to cultivate large plots to reduce their size and this has led to a small number of additional plots.
Why do some non-residents of the Town have an allotment?
Some allotment holders have an old tenancy agreement dating back to 2005 or before. This entitles them to retain their plot even if they live outside the area. For new applicants, only residents of the town are permitted to become tenants.
What are the Council’s rules for Allotments? How do I apply?Click here to download the application form or alternatively call the Allotments Manager on 01303 257946 between the hours of 8.30 am and 2.00pm, Monday to Friday. How much does an allotment cost?Plot sizes vary but a five square rod plot (125 square metres) costs £73.00 per annum. Putting this into context, it is an outlay of £6 per month which probably puts it at the cheaper end of leisure and recreation.
How often does the cost go up?
Charges for allotments are annually reviewed. Tenants are given 3 months notice for any rent increases.
That seems to be a lot of money – where does it all go?
Unfortunately services are not cheap and a lot of staff time is involved. For example, maintaining hedges and trees does not simply incur the cost of cutting them – health and safety considerations, site clearance and labour mounts up. A recent quotation for trimming back bramble was £120. Water is an expensive commodity, the water bills add up to an average of £1,800 per year.
Behind the scenes administrative and related costs occur, despite the desire to keep them to the minimum. It is necessary to personally deal with calls from people with queries about allotments, the waiting list or their tenancy agreements. Where neglected plots are identified a considerable amount of time is consumed in contacting tenants and encouraging improvement or taking more severe action. It is necessary for members of staff to visit allotment sites to resolve issues regarding plot size, non-compliance with conditions, to deal with ‘on the ground’ matters and to provide information to Councillors. On average this takes 1.5 days per week.
How secure are the allotments?
While the Town Council endeavours to ensure that the entrance gates to Park Farm Road and Tile Kiln Lane remain secure and that fences and hedges afford some protection, the security of outbuildings and crops is the responsibility of the tenant. Kent police can advise on any crime prevention measures that can be taken.What happens if I cannot continue to cultivate my allotment?There may be justifiable reasons why you have difficulty in keeping your plot cultivated, for example ill health or bereavement. The first thing you need to do is let us know of your problem. Unfortunately some people find that they cannot tend their allotment as they should do and end up in breach of their terms and conditions. We endeavour to allow these situations to be put right but there comes a time when it is in the interests of everyone for us to take action – to have weeds or an overgrown state extending to nearby allotments is not fair to fellow tenants nor is it reasonable for those who are on the waiting list. Recently, our actions have resulted in people having to surrender plots.
Do you have any hints or tips for new tenants?
There are plenty of books available at your local library and lots of expertise from other plot-holders, who are eager to share their knowledge. There are also extensive websites on ‘how to grow your own veg’, some are listed below.
We hope that the above information will be of help to you – it is our aim to work with allotment holders and to assist their enjoyment of a centuries old tradition.