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Allotment inspections and notice procedures

The inspection procedure

For the spring, summer and autumn (typically March to November) every site will usually be visited every month.

We also run full graded inspections in the autumn and spring.

During the quieter winter months between the autumn and spring inspections (November to March) there is a reduction in inspections, especially during very cold snowy conditions.

What the inspecting officer will be look for

Cultivation
The officer will initially look at the entire plot to see that the majority of it is being cultivated and cropped. If it isn’t, or if large areas towards the front or rear of the plot have been left unworked, this will likely lead to the tenant receiving a cultivation improvement notice.

Weed growth
Particular attention will be paid to seeding weed plants within beds. Where there are large areas of weeds, a weed notice will be issued. They will also look at uncontrolled areas of perennial weeds such as brambles, nettles and rank unmanaged grass. Beds with established and seeding weeds alongside crops will also be liable to a weed improvement notice.

Seasonality will be taken into account when the officer inspects. At mid-summer, most of the plot should be used for growing crops. Plots mostly covered in plastic mulch or carpet will be liable for notice, as may a plot given over mainly to cut grass.

ing the autumn and winter months, they will be looking to see that plots which have become weedy in the late summer are being cleared and improved, however this does not mean you need to be sowing crops. Generally if you are using the winter months to improve your plot by clearing waste and increasing cultivation, then this will be taken into account. However if a plot has been let go in the summer, a winter improvement notice will be issued.

Waste and rubbish
The level of waste will be assessed on the plot, in particular if new waste materials have been brought onto the site. As the council no longer removes waste materials from allotments, the tenant is expected to keep the materials they bring onto their plot to a minimum. Items such as double glazing, timber, doors, tyres and building or landscaping materials are of particular concern.

Any items of household furniture, as well as material that may break down and pollute the soil, or pose a health and safety hazard will also lead to an improvement notice being issued. Any indication that a tenant has burnt waste on their plot, especially if it is inorganic, will lead to a notice and serious cases of burning polluting materials, such as plastic and carpet, may lead to the council taking further legal action.

Other rule breaches
This may include potential hazards such as overly deep ponds or the use of glass bottles for bed construction; leaning or dangerous structures or structures without permission. Checks that trees are being kept under control and are not causing excessive shading and vegetation is not overhanging other plots and tracks will also be made.

The officer will also look at hen houses to ensure the hens welfare is being taken care of and that no cockerels are on the plot.

Improvement notices

If an issue is found by the officer during an inspection, an improvement notice is sent to the tenant outlining what needs resolving and giving the tenant a minimum of 28 days before a re-inspection. The re-inspection may be carried out after 28 days. A notice relating to cultivation or weed infestation will remain active for three months after it is issued.

Notices for waste on a plot, or any other non-cultivation related issue, will remain active until the issue is addressed.

If on re-inspection the issue has been addressed, the notice is cancelled and the tenant is no longer on notice. If the officer finds the issue has not been resolved, a second improvement notice is issued. This effectively gives the tenant a second chance to improve their plot.

If you have a good reason as to why you cannot work your plot, it is important that you let us know. Please make sure your plot is numbered very clearly so there is no confusion between allotments. If you think you have received a notice by mistake, please contact us.