Bristol claims top spot for having longest allotment waiting list in the UK

Nearly 8000 people currently sit on the list, with the average waiting time taking three years.

Bristol has been named the most difficult city in the UK to get an allotment.

A new investigation by Greenpeace has found that the city has the longest waiting list for allotments in the country, with 7,630 people waiting for a plot. The average waiting time for those currently sitting on the list is three years.

Bristol was followed by Sunderland, Portsmouth, Southampton, Edinburgh and Manchester.

Shankari Raj has been on the waiting list in Bristol since 2019: "On one side of things it's wonderful that there is such a long waiting list and so many people want allotments, but I guess the need for it makes you think that we should have more."

"Food growing is an absolute basic necessity, we all need food and water and the more that they put that as a priority the better."

Ron Heath, Vice-Chair at Bristol Allotment Forum says there's a shortage of land for growing produce in the city.

"There's just so much pressure for development that in some places land is incorporated for allotments but it doesn't always work."

According to Ron Heath from Bristol Allotment Forum there's a need to accommodate people into existing plots.

According to the forum, there's a need to accommodate people into existing plots.

"There's a huge failure rate, probably at least 50% of people taking on a plot that within three months, six months or even twelve months people have walked away."

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “In recent years, interest in food growing – both nationally and locally – has surged, a trend which accelerated during the pandemic. This rise in interest has seen allotment waiting lists grow.

"Since May this year, we have received 1,043 new applications with 363 new tenancies being set up. This increase means that we need to review our approach to our allotment allocation and reconsider how we can maximise access to food-growing opportunities across the city.

"We will shortly be consulting on a new allotment strategy that aims to strengthen our approach to sustainable food growing and ensure that all of  our communities can access food growing opportunities, particularly in communities in areas where outdoor space is limited.”

Chris says his allotment is his 'happy place'.

Chris Faulkner is a proud plot owner at Wickham Hill allotments where they have 52 plots but 67 people on a waiting list. He says there are lots of benefits: "You're out in the fresh air, you're meeting people, there's a social aspect to it, it's good for mental health.

"It's good for food security on a wider level. We try and be as self-sufficient in food and vegetables as we can.

"This is what I think we now call my happy place, I love it down here."

Earlier this month artists and volunteers from Greenpeace carried a 30-metre-long living artwork made of seed paper to Downing Street. Credit: Greenpeace

A staggering 174,183 applications have been recorded across England, Wales and Scotland as a whole and allotment waiting lists are now more than double in England what they were in 2011.

Earlier this month artists and volunteers from Greenpeace carried a 30-metre-long living artwork made of seed paper to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

They urged the government to enable people to exercise their rights to allotments as part of the solution to food insecurity, the cost of living crisis and the climate emergency.

The artwork was embedded with clusters of seeds and ash from burned Amazon forests spelling out the message “We the 174,183 demand allotments”, and was a visual representation of the data collected by Greenpeace.