Places of urban disorder?
17 Feb 2022
Increasing urbanisation is placing significant development pressure upon our urban spaces and green infrastructure. Allotments have strong cultural roots in the urban domain with emerging evidence of multiple health and quality of life benefits associated with their existence, use and management. However, they represent a remnant landscape; out of order and unproductive according to conventional economic and market assessments of urban land use. Consequently, allotments represent highly contested spaces; as opportunity spaces for redevelopment to meet housing demands or as growing spaces for escape and socialisation. This paper employs a phenomenological approach to explore the values and perceptions of plotholders, residents, planning managers and allotment bodies relating to one privately owned allotment site in Dudley, West Midlands, UK. Our focus on private allotments fills an important research (lack of information on ownership and spatial extent) and policy (treated differently to public allotments as open space in planning policy) gap. Semi-structured interviews reveal that the allotment site is valued by plotholders and nearby residents on a wide range of ecosystem services and community benefits with only minor concerns evident about modern allotment infrastructure and bonfires. This positive picture reflected strong local governance and community relationships. However, there was a misunderstanding among residents that this private allotment had the same level of protection as a municipal site. It is recommended that planning policy treats both municipal and private sites equally and that more research is conducted on the ownership, distribution and governance of private allotment sites given their importance a in urban planning and placemaking.