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Allotment FAQs

What are the allotment rules and regulations?
How do you ensure that all allotments are being worked?

What do you consider to be a cultivated plot?
What do you consider to be the growing season?
Why have I seen uncultivated plots on allotment sites yet there is a waiting list?

What condition can I expect my plot to be in when I am allocated it?
My allotment plot has become too big for me, what can I do?
I already have an allotment plot, can I have another?
There is a lot of rubbish on my allotment plot, will the Council remove it?
Will Colchester Borough Council rotavate my allotment plot?
Who are the Colchester Allotment Association?
Am I allowed to put a shed on my allotment?
Can I put a glasshouse on my allotment?

Can I put a poly-tunnel up on my allotment plot?
Am I allowed to plant trees on my allotment plot?
Who maintains the paths on the allotment site?
The allotment water is switched off, why?
Can I have a bonfire on my allotment?
What is the Allotment Strategy?

 What are the allotment rules and regulations? 

Colchester Borough Council's rules for having an allotment are found in the pdf icon Allotment Tenancy Agreement [20kb] which is issued at the start of the tenancy. All allotment holders should also abide by the Council's Code of Practice for Bonfires.

How do you ensure that all allotments are being worked? 

All allotment plots are inspected approximately every five to six weeks during the growing season by the allotment site steward for the site. Any plot which is not deemed cultivated is sent a Notice to Quit the plot unless it is cultivated within one month. A three month grace period is given to all new allotment holders. 

What do you consider to be a cultivated plot? 

A plot is considered cultivated if 50% or more of the plot is in productive use, i.e. perennial fruit, flowers or vegetables, or soil is overturned. There should be little or no long vegetation on the allotment plot.

What do you consider to be the growing season? 

The growing season is generally between March and October (weather depending). We normally start inspections after the Easter holiday, depending when Easter is, and we would expect plots to meet our definition of a cultivated plot by this time.

 Why have I seen uncultivated plots on allotment sites yet there is a waiting list? 

There are a number of reasons why a plot is not being cultivated. These are listed below:

  • A Notice to Quit the plot has been served and we are in the one month period we are legally obliged to give to re-enter the plot.
  • A new tenant has just taken on the allotment plot. New tenants are given a three month grace period before the plot is inspected.
  • The plot holder may be ill or experiencing personal problems making it difficult to for them to work the plot for a period of time.

What condition can I expect my plot to be in when I am allocated it? 

As the majority of allotment holders give up their allotment plot because they are struggling to maintain it many plots can be in an uncultivated state. This doesn't mean that the allotment hasn't been worked for years, just a few months and the weeds have grown. Allotmenteering is hard work throughout the first year and a lot of time and dedication is required to maintain it. It can be useful to take advice from fellow allotment holders and there is also a lot of advice which can be sought from websites and reference books. 

My allotment plot has become too big for me, what can I do? 

If you are currently working a full size allotment plot you can half it. To do this you will need to contact the Council on 01206 282266 or allotments@colchester.gov.uk. Alternatively you can swap to a smaller size plot when one becomes vacant.

I already have an allotment plot, can I have another? 

To manage demand for allotments a one plot per household policy is in place. On some sites where demand is low we do allow allotment holders to have two half size plots on the same site, but certain criterion applies. To find out if you are eligible for this, please e-mail allotments@colchester.gov.uk with your name, site name and plot number, and we'll get back to you.

There is a lot of rubbish on my allotment plot, will the Council remove it?

The Council will not remove rubbish from allotment plots. The removal of rubbish is down to the allotment holder to dispose of in a legal manner. No rubbish should be dumped on the allotment site.

Will Colchester Borough Council rotavate my allotment plot? 

Colchester Borough Council will not rotavate your allotment plot for you even if you are a new allotment holder. It is strongly advised that you take the opportunity of looking at the allotment before you take the allotment on. If you have any concerns regarding its condition then please let us know before you accept the tenancy. 

Who are the Colchester Allotment Association? 

Colchester Allotment Association (CAA) are an independent organisation who were set up to promote allotment gardening, preserve allotments and to support allotment holders. To find out more details about the CAA visit their website at Colchester Allotment Association.

Am I allowed to put a shed on my allotment? 

Yes - sheds are allowed to be put on allotment plots with written consent from the Council. The shed should be not larger than 2.5m x 1.8m (8ft x 6ft) and should be placed in a position so it will not affect neighbouring plot holders.  Permission for the erection of a shed will only be granted if a water butt, to collect rainwater from the shed roof, is attached. This condition has been set to ensure allotments are as sustainable as possible. All details regarding the specification of the shed and its proposed location should be supplied in writing to the Council.

Can I put a glasshouse on my allotment? 

Glasshouses can be placed on allotments with written permission from the Council. The largest glasshouse allowed is 2.5m x 1.8m (8ft x 6ft) and should be placed in a position which does not affect your neighbouring plot holders.  All details regarding its specification and proposed location should be supplied in writing to the Council.

Can I put a poly-tunnel up on my allotment plot? 

Similar to sheds and glasshouses, poly-tunnels are allowed on allotment plots with written consent from the Council. A poly-tunnel should be no larger than 2.5m x 5m (8ft x 15ft) and placed so it does not affect your neighbouring plot holder. All details regarding its specification and its proposed location should be supplied in writing to the Council.

Am I allowed to plant trees on my allotment plot? 

Permission will not be given for the planting of standard trees, but miniature varieties such as step-over or minarette trees will be considered. No trees with a mature height of 1.8m or over will be considered and only three trees are allowed per allotment plot. All details regarding the trees and their proposed locations should be supplied in writing to the Council.

Who maintains the paths on the allotment site? 

The main paths on allotment sites are maintained by Colchester Borough Council. The smaller paths between plots are part of the allotment plots either side of it and the responsibility of the neighbouring plot holders to maintain. These paths should not be obstructed at any time as they provide important access around the site.

The allotment water is switched off, why?  

Water on allotment sites is switched off over the winter period to ensure that the pipes are not damaged through frost. The water is turned off between approximately October and March. If there are any issues regarding the allotment water please contact us on 01206 282266 or allotments@colchester.gov.uk and necessary repairs will be undertaken.

Can I have a bonfire on my allotment? 

Bonfires are allowed on allotment sites as long as they follow the Council's Bonfire Code of Practice. A copy of these were issued at the beginning your tenancy.

What is the Allotment Strategy? 

Colchester Borough Council manages 19 allotment sites with over 1100 allotment plots. To respond to the interest in allotments within the Borough and ensure that current allotment sites are managed effectively Colchester Borough Council has complied an pdf icon Allotment Strategy [578kb]. The strategy covers issues such as the current waiting list, site maintenance, billing and the inspection process.  This document will enable allotment holders to find out how the Council plans to proceed in the future.