There appear to be three basic forms of self-management of Council allotment sites currently in operation in the London Area and its surroundings. These are:
(a) Management of individual sites, or groups of sites, by individual Local Allotment Associations that take responsibility for all aspects of the management of their sites, including major infrastructure changes, with minimal Council back-up.
(b) Management of all Council owned sites in a borough by a single Local Allotment Association that takes responsibility for all aspects of site management on all Council sites again with minimal Council back-up.
(c) Management of individual sites, or groups of sites, by individual Local Allotment Associations that take responsibility for all aspects of management of their sites apart from major infrastructure changes which remain the sole responsibility of the Council.
In all cases, major decisions on matters such as major infrastructure changes are subject to prior Council approval. Where a Council's allotments are managed by a multiplicity of individual allotment associations these are normally, but not invariably, part of an over-arching Federation of Local Associations that ensures some degree of uniformity in the way that different sites are managed.
There are many variations in the details of how these three categories of self-management are organised in practice in different boroughs and urban authorities. There is also, in some cases, overlap between the different categories of management and/or operation of more than one scheme by the same local authority.
For the sake of convenience, the three management categories are referred to below as the Croydon Model, the Guildford Model and the Kingston Model. This is not to imply that these categories were originated in these areas or even that they are necessarily the best examples of each category. They are, however, typical of their category, up and running and most importantly documentation and copies of model leases showing how they work are available and are reproduced below.
The Croydon Model
Background: Croydon has two types of site - "Direct Let" where plots are let directly to the plot holder and the site managed by the Council - and "Leasehold" (comprising the vast majority of sites) where the leasing associations have full management responsibilities. There are six "Direct Let" sites, three of which have a limited self management agreement with the Council which gives the local association control of the waiting list and letting, and eleven "Leasehold Sites". All but one of the leasing associations are Industrial & Provident Societies (regulated by the FSA) which limits the liability of the association and its officers.
Lease Summary: The lease is between the Council and the leasing allotment association running for twenty one years (with right of review after seven and fourteen years). The association pays a fixed annual rent (with the right of an increase by the Council if there are improvements to the site at Council expense). The site is leased for allotment gardening only: The association is responsible for the maintenance of the site infrastructure including the upkeep of fences, gates, hedges, the water supply system, paths, car parking areas etc., Any construction of major sheds, trading huts etc., requires prior permission of the Council. Proper insurance has to be in place and proper accounts (available for Council inspection) have to be kept. The leasing association is required to maintain the rents to plot holders at a level no less than eighty percent of that charged by the Council on Direct Let sites. Appropriate provisions for the resolution of disputes are included.
To access a full copy of the lease click on Croydon Lease (PDF)
The Guildford Model
Background: Guilford has fourteen allotment sites all of which are managed by a single allotment association (formed by the amalgamation of two pre-existing associations). This association is responsible for setting the policy for, and oversight of, the management of all sites. The detailed day-to-day management on individual sites is exercised by site managers appointed by, and responsible to, the central association.
Lease Summary: The Guilford Lease covers much the same ground as the Croydon Lease. As in the case of Croydon, the association is responsible for the maintenance site infrastructure. The main differences are that only one leasing association is involved and that this association is charged with producing, in conjunction with the Council, an approved five year business plan covering all Council sites. This is designed, among other things, to ensure an equitable distribution of maintenance and development funds between the different sites, A further difference, not unique to Guilford, is that there is a detailed schedule setting out the relationship between the leasing association and the individual plot holder.
To access a full copy of the lease and the accompanying schedule click on Guildford Lease (PDF)
Background: Kingston-on-Thames has twenty three allotment sites split between eleven self-managed sites (referred to as voluntary management sites) and sites whose management has been contracted out by the Council to a company named Quadron. The essential difference in the case of Kingston, lies not so much in the involvement of an outside contractor but in the extent of responsibility of the leasing associations (nine in number) for the maintenance of site infrastructure. The leasing associations are responsible for routine repairs to the gates, fencing, water supply system etc., but not for major repairs and replacements. The responsibility for these tasks remains with the Council operating via Quadron. This reduced responsibility is reflected in the rent agreement. The fact that, the leasing associations are not responsible for planning and supervising major projects means that this system is suitable for the management of sites with smaller associations that may lack the depth of managerial skills for such tasks.
To access a full copy of the lease and the accompanying schedule click on Kingston Lease (PDF)