Allotments are a much-loved feature of British life and their holders enjoy security of tenure and special protection against eviction. In a case on point, a gardener scored in an important High Court victory in his fight to stop his local council taking over his prized plots to make way for development of a new primary school.
The council had purported to appropriate the man’s four allotments and had served him and 13 other allotment holders with notice to quit. Their plots were said to be needed to provide playing fields and car parking space for the new school. They had been offered alternative plots but were dissatisfied with them. Although they had no objection to the school proposal, they wanted the plans reconfigured so that their allotments would be saved.
In upholding the man’s judicial review challenge, the Court found that the relevant land had, as long ago as 1935, been formally appropriated for use as allotments by the council’s predecessor authority. By virtue of the Allotments Act 1925, that conferred security of tenure on the allotment holders and their plots could not be appropriated for any other purpose without the consent of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. No such consent had been sought or obtained by the council.
The council’s argument that the allotment holder had lodged his case unreasonably late was rejected, as was its plea that the Secretary of State would be highly likely to grant the required consent. The council’s decision to appropriate the allotments for the new school was overturned, together with the 14 notices to quit. The council was ordered to pay the allotment holder’s £12,199 legal costs.