Allotment acts

There are several Acts of Parliament devoted to allotments and smallholdings, since the people's right to land is a fundamental social and political issue. Land ownership has long been a bone of contention; not least since the Enclosure Movement privatised large tracts of land we previously had a right to access and use. The maintenance restoration and improvement of these rights: and security of tenure, compensation for improvements, freedom from arbitrary eviction - these are all basic concerns for citizens seeking communal or individual access to public land.

The Small Holding and Allotments Act 1908 is the Act we often rely on: it is one of the very few examples of genuinely benevolent legislation.  For example: -

(1908) Part II Allotments

Provision of Allotments
23 Duty of certain councils to provide allotments

(1)If the council of any borough, urban district, or parish are of opinion that there is a demand for allotments . . . F1 in the borough, urban district, or parish, . . . F1 the council shall provide a sufficient number of allotments, and shall let such allotments to persons . . . F1 resident in the borough, district, or parish, and desiring to take the same.

(2)On a representation in writing to the council of any borough, urban district, or parish, by any six registered parliamentary electors or [F2persons who are liable to pay an amount in respect of council tax] resident in the borough, urban district, or parish, that the circumstances of the borough, urban district, or parish are such that it is the duty of the council to take proceedings under this Part of this Act therein, the council shall take such representation into consideration.

F1 etc. and the blue interpolations show how it has been amended over the years.

The article that follows aims to show how you can get a copy of up-to-date versions; and it outlines the other Allotment Acts that we generally use.

Take care though! Do not become an allotment shed lawyer!


Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908

1908 CHAPTER 36 8_Edw_7


Go to Preamble

Small Holdings




Improvements referred to in Section Forty-seven

"An Act to consolidate the enactments with respect to small holdings and allotments in England and Wales."[1st August 1908] 1 Act wholly in force at 1.1.1909 by s. 63(2)

To read any section of this Act ctrl plus click on the page:-

First page 1 2 3 4 5 6 Last page



The Office of Public Service Information (OPSI)

This government site makes most Acts available in their amended form: make sure you click in "revised" in the left hand drop down if you are in doubt. And select 1801-to date so as to choose the year the Act was in force.

On this site, apart from the 1908 Act, you might be interested in:

The Allotments Act 1922 (c.51)

This gave some security of tenure and compensation, required 12 months notice to quit for an "allotment garden", the notice terminating on 6th April or after 29th September in any year. It defined an "allotment garden" as not exceeding 40 poles (quarter of an acre, approx 1000 square meters) wholly or mainly cultivated by the occupier for vegetables and fruit for self and family. (i.e. not a commercial undertaking) and this remains the definition now, though land simply defined as "an allotment" would not be included, and allotments above 5 acres may be smallholdings.

The Allotments Act 1925 (c.61)

Section 8 states that statutory sites (those obtained by a Council for allotment use according to the records) cannot be sold or converted to other uses without ministerial consent (a Section 8 Order). The Secretary of State must be convinced that arrangements for an alternative site will be made of any allotment holders displaced by the action of the local authority, unless such provision is unnecessary or not reasonably practicable.

The repealed Section 12 (by the 1972 Local Government Act) once imposed a duty on Councils to establish an allotment committee. The removal of these has made communication and administration more difficult and many Councils now establish one anyway to meet administrative practicalities given the positive nature of allotment law.

These days Planning Policy Guidance 17 provides for the provision of allotments as Recreational and Green Space under the Planning Acts.

The Allotments Act 1950 (c.31)

Strengthened security of tenure and compensation on Council land; limited the duty to provide plots (except in urban areas) to the provision of allotment gardens of an eighth of an acre (20 rods which means two full plots) each i.e. no obligation to provide larger plots.

This act grants tenants the right to keep rabbits and chickens, any contract or undertaking against that being declared void on Council land. There are no restrictions on keeping animals on allotments apart from the need to gain landlord's consent - so bees, pigeon lofts, pig sties etc. are all possible with agreement.

Should be such as a "tenant may reasonably be expected to pay for the land" (Section 10) and may be reduced under special circumstances e.g. for the unwaged, for pensioners and for those on low incomes - a provision useful especially in depressed areas or in times of depression.

For those interested there are also

The Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1926 (c 52)

Defines small holdings and the power to provide them.

The Land Settlement (Facilities) Act 1919 c59

Confirms the power of District Councils to purchase land and lease it to Parishes for use as allotments.

Advisory Note
Obviously the broader meanings of the Acts can be used as a guide in negotiation or in drawing up tenancy agreements, but for complex issues members are advised to contact swcaa Office to obtain professional advice, especially if court action is a possibility.