The following article appeared in the Evening Standard on 20 th October.
Soaring demand for the precious outdoor space of an allotment has pushed waiting times to
“out-of-control” levels in London since the start of the pandemic.
It is now typical for Londoners to face a decade’s delay before starting the “good life”
with Camden gardeners forced to be the most patient in Britain, according to a survey.
Appreciation of the value of allotments has rocketed since March last year when the first
lockdown forced millions of Londoners with no green space to spend months stuck at home.
Data from Freedom of Information requests from more than 300 councils showed Camden
top of the waiting list league table, with gardeners having to sit out 17 growing seasons on
average before they can start tending their soil.
One Camden gardener had to wait 18 years and three months, or 6,690 days, the longest
recorded in Britain.
The figures, obtained by the website MyJobQuote, showed the waiting lists averaged 13
years in Islington and more than 11 in Richmond and Wandsworth.
Some of the biggest lists are also in London with 4,071 applicants waiting for a plot in
Newham and 3,080 in Lewisham. Richmond’s list has more than doubled from 637 in
February 2020 to 1,526 this month, while the number of Google searches for allotments in
the UK is now 4.5 times higher than before the pandemic.
More than 40 London allotment sites have closed in the past eight years with the future of
another one, Park Road Allotments in Isleworth, in doubt following a planning row with
landowner the Duke of Northumberland.
Terry Dickinson, London representative for the National Allotment Society, said it was vital
more space is made in the capital for new plots to help its green drive and people’s mental
He said: “I commonly hear 10 years on the waiting list in London…it’s completely out of
control. We need more allotments.
“I know the Government has made a statement about opening up brownfield sites for
building but there is land around for allotments. You don’t have to be a genius to drive
around London and see land not being used. Long before the pandemic, waiting lists were
going up. During the pandemic, they increased greatly — in some places by 500 per cent…
the demand is there.”
Mr Dickinson celebrated the huge benefits they can have on people’s lives. He said:
“Allotments get you outside. They are exercise, food, family — and it is so good for your
mental health. So many people said their allotment was their lifeline during lockdown and
the Government was quick to point out you could go to your allotment for one hour a day
A spokesman for Richmond and Wandsworth councils, which jointly manage their
allotments, said: “We have seen an increase in allotment applications since the pandemic
began. We regularly assess allotment use to ensure they are being used for cultivating and
any plots not being used effectively are taken back and offered to the next person on the
BAF web editor’s note: Barnet Allotment Federation was not surveyed by MyJobQuote. With
44 self managed allotment sites throughout Barnet, applicants on waiting lists are well into
four figures per our internal survey in February this year.