Temporary allotments idea to cut waiting list

Sarah HallDerelict land and grass verges around Norwich could be transformed into temporary allotments as Norwich City Council struggles to find plots for the hundreds of people waiting to till the earth.Sarah Hall

Derelict land and grass verges around Norwich could be transformed into temporary allotments as Norwich City Council struggles to find plots for the hundreds of people waiting to till the earth.

Interest in allotments has grown in recent years, with the green movement and the recession contributing to a renewed zest for growing veg.

The council owns and manages 1,532 plots on 18 allotment sites around the city, but members were keen to find out whether there were ways to maximise use of them and find other ways to meet demand. City Hall's scrutiny committee was tasked with investigating and at a meeting tomorrow

it will put forward its recommendations.

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Councillors want to see plot sizes tailored to individual needs, all overgrown plots cleared and allotment associations established for every site. More radically, the working group has said City Hall should identify other council-owned land that could be turned into allotments and should look at creating temporary sites on brown-field land awaiting redevelopment.

Its report states: 'This could include using housing land near flats currently used for grass/shrub beds as informal allotments for local people or a community group. New, temporary sites should be provided on brown-field sites where development is not imminent or on unallocated land. Suitable sites should be indentified as soon as possible, and the current consultation on potential development sites in Norwich offers an ideal opportunity in which to do this.

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'Residents should be encouraged to suggest suitable sites, such as unused gardens, roadside verges and unused patches of land.'

The group also wants to see grow-your-own enthusiasm fostered in people's gardens, instead of allotments, and to let community groups share plots.

Kerry Annison, 45, started up her allotment at the Mousehold North plots off Gertrude Road in 2004 and has won numerous awards, including the Gold Innovative Award in Norwich In Bloom. Miss Annison, who lives off Dereham Road, said: 'There's so much which you get out of having an allotment. It really helps the mind, body and soul. It is about quality produce which costs next to nothing.

'It's great because it gets children involved and they get to see their seeds germinate and then eat what is grown, which helps them understand where their food comes from.

'It used to be older people who had allotments and it was uncool, but now there's so many people who are middle-aged or younger who have allotments. There's no better time to have one, with all the concerns about finances and obesity.'

She backed the suggestion to create temporary allotments, saying: 'That's a fantastic idea. I've seen it done in other parts of the country, where they have done that on land which isn't going to be developed for five or even 10 years and it works very well.'

� Do you think creating temporary allotments is a good idea? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich,

NR1 1RE or email eveningnews


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