On 6 October 2022 the Scottish Parliament's Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee published a report on "Allotments and community growing: the impact of Part 9 of the Community Empowerment Act" (the "Report") which revealed that there is significant demand for allotments and growing spaces which is not being met by local authorities.

In this blog we look at local authorities' statutory duties set out in Part 9 the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (the "Act") relating to allotments and allotments sites.

Part 9 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

Local authorities have a duty to provide allotments in their local authority area. Part 9 of the Act consolidated and reformed previous legislation relating to allotments which was complex and disjointed, and includes supporting duties:

  • Maintain waiting lists. There is no set form for waiting lists and local authorities are given some autonomy on how they do this to best suit their local authority area.
  • Manage waiting lists. Local authorities must make sure that waiting lists are not too long and applicants are not on the waiting list for more than 5 years. The Act provides guidance and rules for when a waiting list should be set up and provides for when the clock starts ticking on the 5-year waiting time. The 5-year waiting time limit starts whether or not the local authority currently owns or leases allotments and depends on the number of applicants on the waiting list.
  • Prepare allotment regulations. The Act sets out mandatory and optional provisions to be included and depending on how the allotment sites are to be managed, local authorities can choose to impose different regulations for specific allotment sites. Requirements relating to the drafting process, including who should be consulted, are also set out in the Act.
  • Publish allotment reports electronically. The Act provides a list of information which should be included in reports.
  • Retain allotment sites. Local authorities cannot dispose of allotment sites leased or owned by them without prior permission from the Scottish Government.
  • Develop a food growing strategy. The food growing strategy should include provision for allotments including identifying land that can be used as allotment sites and describing how the local authority intends to increase the number of allotments in their area. Local authorities have a duty to review their food growing strategies every 5 years. The food growing strategy must be published electronically and all amendments or changes to the strategy after review must also be published.

Helpfully for local authorities and communities, local authorities can delegate some aspects of the management of allotments to "a person who represents the interests of all or the majority of the tenants of the allotments on a particular site". In practice, this generally means allotment associations run by volunteers who make a request to take on the management of an allotment site (Scottish Government guidance recommends that local authorities make sure allotment associations fully understand the legal implications of carrying out management functions).

The Report indicates that there's a long way to go in terms of engagement by local authorities in publishing food growing strategies, allotment regulations and annual allotment reports. Given that in terms of NPF4, local developments plans are to create land for community food growing and allotments, and the significant demand for allotments, local authorities may face increasing pressure to demonstrate full compliance with the various obligations set out in the Act.


Jenna Monteith

Legal Director

Mike Stephen