In 2011 a new development of around a hundred allotment plots was created on a field in Armitage, Staffordshire. The take up was rapid and within months local people were producing fruit and vegetables for themselves.
A number of small sheds were erected on some of the plots, but Lichfield District Council soon served notice that the sheds required planning permission as they are permanent and substantial structures, and should be removed immediately. Since then it has been made clear that should planning permission be applied for it will be denied.
We believe that a 6 foot by 4 foot shed does not require planning permission for the following reasons;
The sheds are small in size.
The sheds are not physically attached to the ground in any way.
The sheds have no services such as water or electricity.
The sheds are easily moveable.
Many other councils have decided that 6 foot by 4 foot sheds on allotments do not require planning permission, and LDC could do themselves. The reason given by one councillor was “it is sensible to allow allotment holders to have a small shed on site in which to store various equipment”.
I would like to explain why I feel a shed is vital to the allotment experience. My mother with whom I share the plot is 63 years old and retired, she cannot drive and lives in Lichfield. As there is a bus stop either side of the allotment she travels by bus.
She cannot carry the tools she needs, as well as wellington boots, change of clothes, and whatever else with her. They must be there, in the shed, awaiting her. Without them there is no point in her continuing. Similarly if rain comes she needs to have somewhere to shelter, she cannot simply duck into her car.
For my part, and my daughter who is 6 years old, we live in Handsacre, a mere 15 minutes walk from the allotments. I do not want to be driving to and fro each day, it is economically, environmentally, and health-wise unsound to do so. For myself and my daughter. She has had a new bicycle for Christmas and she will want to ride it down there as the weather improves I am sure.
Sheds have a further environmental benefit in that they can be hooked up to water butts to collect water, reducing the draw that needs to be made to the water supply. We intend going further than that with our shed and have plans to use it for growing yet more and diverse produce on, for example hanging baskets from it for trailing varieties of tomatoes.
The allotments have rapidly become a valuable resource to the local community, used by young and old alike, and accessible to so many because of the sheds. Without sheds there is a real danger the use of the allotments will become limited.