To consider a report by the Head of Environmental Services, and the Head of Finance and Asset Management (Reference 11/155 attached).
Cabinet considered a joint report by the Head of Environmental Services, Head of Tourism and Culture and the Head of Finance and Asset management (Reference 11/155) Cllr Dixon informed Cabinet that when he first joined the council he was approached by a member of the public about concerns on waiting lists for allotments. A report was requested in 2008 and this highlighted there were long waiting lists for allotments and there were relatively high costs associated with running the allotments. A task group was set up chaired by Cllr Smith and the outcomes were reported. One recommendation from that group was for officers to identify land for allotments. It was found that the most successful allotments were on the boundary between housing estates and farmland. As a result of this work a two sites had been identified which if provided would remove the current waiting list of 120. It was noted that at present there were only 90 allotment plots so further provision was needed. Cabinet were informed that there were statutory allotments which had to be used as allotments. If the council wished to change the use of a statutory allotment it would need approval from the Secretary of State.
The pay back period for the allotments proposed was approximately 6 years. It was noted that it was not proposed to make the new allotment at Woodlands Drive a statutory allotment in case this land was needed for another purpose such as housing in future years.
Cllr Smith stated that he was pleased to see the report was now having positive outcomes. He noted that in York their allotments were very good for disabled access and he asked that the allotments in the borough be made accessible also.
Cllr Marsden asked if there were many people in the Cornelian area who had applied for allotments. Cllr Dixon stated that many people who had gardens also wanted an allotment to grow vegetables. Cllr Marsden stated that she had expressed her concerns regarding the siting and look of the allotments but she was happy for this to go to consultation. Cllr Dixon stated that there were relatively high set up costs to ensure the allotments were not unsightly.
Mr Anderson proposed there should be an amendment to the recommendations which would expressly state that the Woodlands Drive allotment was a non-statutory allotment and therefore may be temporary. Cllr Dixon stated that he did not agree with the idea of stating that Woodlands was a temporary solution as he believed there was a shortage of allotments and the waiting list would grow. Cornelian and Woodlands Drive together was approximately 130 plots which would remove the waiting list in the short term but not in the longer term.
Mr Anderson stated that Cabinet needed a way of giving reasons for why one allotment site was statutory and one was not.
Cllr Dixon noted this and agreed with the amendments if it was made clear that the council were pursuing both sites with equal vigour.
Cllr Evans stated that many people only wanted half a plot and he was glad that this had been recognised however there was no provision for education with the allotments and he thought that there should be an education facility on one of the sites.
Cllr Marsden stated that this was going to the Planning Committee but she was concerned about the possibility of having over 100 cars that would need to be accommodated if the allotments were not for people in the immediate vicinity.
RESOLVED that Cabinet approve:
(a) The provision of a new allotment site on existing agricultural land owned by the Borough Council at Cornelian Drive which would be a statutory allotment.
(b) The provision of a new allotment site on existing agricultural land owned by the Borough Council at Woodlands Drive which would be a non-statutory allotment site used as a temporary solution to the allotment waiting list.
(c) The expenditure of £20,745 for the development of the sites on an Invest to Save basis with a payback period of six years.
(d) Proceeding with applications for planning consent, obtaining vacant possession and developing and letting the above sites as allotments.
(e) That subject to 2 new allotment sites being developed, Cabinet approve the declassification of the site at Prospect Mount as allotments.