Waiting list for allotments in Hackney to reopen for first time in half a decade

Allotment Society chair Julia Rockcliffe (left) with fellow plot-holder June. Photograph: courtesy Julia Rockcliffe

Local residents will soon have a rare chance to join the queue for a “prized resource” – with the waiting list for allotments to reopen for the first time in five years.

The Hackney Allotment Society, which has nine sites across the borough under its care, is planning to add 100 people to the list in February 2024.

It comes after the number of people standing by for one of the sought-after rental plots dropped to just 17 last month.

Hackney is one of London’s greenest boroughs, and the cheapest in London for allotment rents at £31 per year.

Allotments are a ‘great way to meet like-minded people’. Photograph: Julia Rockcliffe

The Allotment Society manages the waiting list, and only its members, who each pay £4 a year towards administration costs, are eligible join up.

“Allotments are scarce in London, and a lot of people don’t have gardens,” said Julia Rockcliffe, 47, chair of the Allotment Society and a site representative from Lower Clapton.

Having tended to her allotment for 15 years, Rockcliffe is passionate about expanding access to them.

She said they are a “good way to meet like-minded people”, grow organic food, pursue different interests, and spend time outdoors.

“They are a green oasis in the middle of everything,” she continued. “Enriching is so important in the city.”

Rockcliffe, who has lived in Hackney for nearly two decades, is also aware of the wellbeing benefits of allotments, particularly in a bustling city.

Over the past few years, she has used her position as a site representative to build on and expand pre-existing plots.

This has helped the turnover of the waiting list, as people “scarcely” give up allotments.

There were 300 people waiting for 150 allotments in 2008, which led to the list being closed for 15 years.

Allotment sites are scattered across the borough, with four in E5, four in N16, and one in E8.

Members have the option to accept or deny the plot offered to them, depending on whether they wish to remain on the waiting list.

More information on the waiting list can be found at hackneyallotments.org.uk/waiting.

The Society investigates possible allotment sites, so if you spot any disused land in Hackney that might be suitable, send as much information as possible to hackneyallotments@gmail.com.