A new report from the Brighton and Hove Allotment Federation (BHAF) provides evidence that allotments, rather than being a drain on council resources, are a valuable asset to the city.
Beyond simply calculating the running costs of housing estates minus the rents paid by plot owners to the municipality as landlord, the report estimates their value in other terms.
These include reducing the carbon footprint of the city’s food culture, physical and mental health benefits for plot owners, biodiversity, carbon storage and flood prevention – and reducing treatment packaging and food waste.
The report formed the centerpiece of presentations and discussions at the BHAF Annual General Meeting held to a packed room at Community Base on Wednesday 6 April.
It was commissioned and funded by BHAF and written by Jim Mayor and Santiago Ripoll, of the Institute for Development Studies, University of Sussex.
To learn more about the report, click here. To read the full report, click here.
The report found that the allocations save the city a minimum of £385,000 a year. Of the 2,311 plots in Brighton and Hove, this equates to £167 per plot.
And that figure does not include the £130,000 in rent paid by plot owners to the council each year, or the value of locally grown food worth an estimated £1.12million.
But the allotments benefit plot owners and the wider community in more ways than just producing locally grown food.
The report also found
- Food grown on the plots in Brighton and Hove reduced the town’s food-related carbon footprint by 1,050 tonnes with a financial value of £257,234.
- Brighton and Hove housing estates are improving the mental and physical health of plot holders, reducing healthcare costs due to lower incidence of stress, depression and loneliness and lower BMI of plot holders. These health benefits have an estimated value of £32,132.
- The housing estates are among the most biodiverse areas in the city, providing vital green corridors for wildlife, home to up to 54 times more bees than other communal lands, and with soil that stores 578 tonnes of carbon from more than grasslands (helping to fight climate change). the minimum the biodiversity value of the city’s housing estates, plus their carbon storage and flood prevention value is £81,835.
- Zero packaging on food grown on the plots saves the council from having to deal with 17 tonnes of plastic waste, in addition to saving the council from having to deal with 63 tonnes of food waste destined for compost. Together these save the council £14,500.
- The benefits of city allocations mean that they subsidize other council departments and outside agencies and contribute to the council’s many objectives. In doing so, the allocations are good for the plot owners and the wider community, the environment and the council’s finances, saving us all money.
The meeting ended with a Q&A on the report and the future of remit from a selection of cross-party advisers – Jamie Lloyd (Green), Robert Nemeth (Conservative) and Nancy Platts (Labour) – who sit on the board’s Environment, Transportation and Sustainability Committee, which is responsible for assignments.
The panel also included two board officers responsible for awards, Paul Campbell and Robert Walker.
BHAF chairman Mark Carroll told the audience: ‘Demand for housing plots had soared during the pandemic at the same time as the council’s housing departments were experiencing staff reductions.
The number of people on the waiting list increased from 1,172 in March 2019 to 2,785 in January 2022.
Council agent Robert Walker said he “expected demand for housing estates to continue to grow”.
Councilor Nancy Platts described the report as “a masterstroke” and spoke of the importance of talking to people about the social benefits of housing estates and the possibility of growing food locally for large institutions like hospitals.
She also spoke about the importance of identifying more plots and the possibility of introducing starter plots, as well as accessing funding for health budget allocations.
Councilor Jamie Lloyd said he would like to see better communications between BHAF and council and more open days so ‘communities can see the benefits of housing estates’.
Councilor Robert Nemeth spoke of the importance of subdivisions to “remove waste from the waste stream” and “protect subdivisions from future threats” from alternative land use.
He also said the council needed to “tidy up its maintenance responsibility” for the housing estates and ensure that all plots were let.
Councilors and council officers praised the report. At a meeting of the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee in January, it was agreed that the social and environmental benefits of the developments identified by the report would be incorporated into the next version of the review. the advice of its subdivision service.
Dominic Furlong is a member of the Brighton and Hove Allotment Federation.