Cut back on the chickens, council tells Norwich allotment holders

It looks like a case of cock a doodle don't for allotment holders around Norwich - with council bosses ready to take action against people who keep too many chickens on the city's plots.

Norwich City Council officers are concerned that at some of the city's 1,561 allotments, people are not using the plots for their intended main use - to grow fruit and vegetables for them and their families.

Some allotment holders have built cages on their plots which they use for large-scale chicken keeping or to keep pigeons.

The rules currently state that people must not keep animals, other than hens and rabbits, on their allotments, but until now council officers have only intervened when they have become a nuisance to neighbours.

However, the drawing up of clearer rules, which make plain cockerels are not allowed and that permission is needed to keep bees, will see council officers speaking to people who break the regulations.

Initially people who do not abide by the rules will get a time scale in which to get rid of the 'livestock' they should not be keeping, but ultimately the council can take away tenancies if they do not comply.

The new allotment rules - amounting to 26 pages - will be put to the city council's cabinet to agree next Wednesday (January 19) and would come into effect from March.

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The new rules were drawn up after talking, in 2009, to representatives from allotment associations and last September a draft version was sent to plot holders for consultation.

Of the 1,277 tenants invited to give their views, 56 responded, while 429 people visited the city council's website to look at the consultation page.

In the report, officers state: 'The introduction of the new rules will affect tenants who have been in breach of the existing arrangement for many years, but notices to remedy have never been issued, for instance, keeping pigeons or whole plots being caged and large scale chicken keeping taking place.

'Officers have visited sites and recorded 'historic' breaches of the rules that have not been addressed previously. Officers will work with tenants to rectify those breaches, within agreed timescales.'

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said the new rules were because of extra demand for allotments and the need to be fairer.

She said: 'The aim of the new rules is to help people understand their rights and responsibilities and make it easier for the council to take action where plots are being misused and neglected at the expense of other, existing or prospective, tenants.

'The council balances its approach to enforcement with the potential impact the breach of the rules may have. 'Where previously a breach of rules may not have caused an issue, changing expectations and demands requires the council to ensure everyone is treated fairly.'

• Are you an allotment holder with a view on the changes? Tell your story to reporter Dan Grimmer by calling 01603 772375 or email