Guidance Notes (ACC)

Allotment – Guidance Notes on Managing Your Allotment Issued by Aberdeen city Council

Use of your allotments must be as set out in Legislation covering allotments, and in terms of your Conditions of Let. These Notes are intended to be a quick guide only.

Aberdeen City Council carries out Audits of all Aberdeen City Council’s allotment sites once very early in the growing season and then again nearer the end of the season. Photos will be taken of all allotments which are not being worked.

If allotments are identified as not being worked, a letter will be sent out from the Service to the allotment holder, requesting that the allotment holder brings the allotment up to a reasonable standard as stated in the Conditions of Allotment Let (Clause) 10, which states:

The subjects shall be kept tidy and clear of weeds or accumulated rubbish all to the reasonable satisfaction of the said Grounds Maintenance Officer.

If, after a period of time, the allotment is still not being worked, this will result in the process of termination of the Allotment Lease being invoked.

In between the above audit periods, Allotment Representatives may monitor plots which are not being worked and may bring this issue to the attention of the Service.

This additional information is helpful and will be taken into consideration by officers, on the future management of those plots.

Aberdeen City Council are aware of persistent offenders who are dealt with accordingly within our Termination of Lease process. Once a lease is terminated, offenders will not usually be considered for another allotment.

Illness or Change of Circumstances

In the first instance please do not hesitate to contact your Allotment Representative, or the Service if, illness or a change of circumstance are preventing you from working your allotment. This will bring the matter to our attention and will be taken into consideration when the Audits are being carried out. Specific advice will also be given to the Allotment Holder by the Allotment Representative or the Service during these situations.

What Constitutes a Cultivated Allotment

a)  The planting, tending, production and harvesting of crops or plants and:

b)  The preparation of ground to promote their growth.

The definitive time frame for cultivation is customarily set at:

  • 25% of the plot to be cultivated within three months of the start of the tenancy. This provides an early warning of likely failure and will be monitored carefully.
  • 50% by the end of the first year.
  • 75% over 2 years, an achievable aim if actively managed.Discretion would be taken by the Service as a consequence of the condition of the plot when the tenancy begins. A realistic assessment would be made by officers auditing these sites.

As a minimum requirement, allotments should be cultivated in a way that does not interfere in any material way with the enjoyment of neighbouring tenants.

Key elements include:

  • Removal of weed seed-heads before seed has set.
  • Control of pernicious weeds, such as those that spread through the extension of roots, (e.g. couch grass and ground elder) or by generating new plants from growing tips in contact with the soil (e.g. brambles).
  • Removal of long grass or detritus that is likely to harbour slugs and snails (which may forage next door).

Good Housekeeping

Allotment Holders will demonstrate good management practices by:

  • Keeping communal paths free of hazards to allow free and unimpeded access and to ensure grass paths are trimmed.
  • Removal of damaged surplus allotment items e.g. (fencing, netting, wood & glass) that are beyond practical repair.

Water Supply at Sites

Where a water supply is provided on sites, it is for the use of all allotment holders equally and therefore, no permanent hose connections must be attached to the tap.

Allotment – Guidance Notes for Micro Plots

Definition of a Micro Plot   

Aberdeen City Council’s view is that the term “Micro Plot” remains the status quo as it is inappropriate to categorize them as Starter Plots.

As such, the Service have duties, both moral and statutory, to ensure we are not discriminating. Consequently this generic name for our smaller plots is explained below:

Micro Plot – Starter Plot

 Micro Plots can be used as a starter plot to enable the new allotment holder to test their interest and ability to manage an allotment and to enable the Association and Aberdeen City Council to assess whether the new allotment holder would be able to progress to either a ½, ¾, or full sized plot as they become available.

When a new allotment holder is allocated a Micro Plot they will be given a maximum period of tenancy of one full rental season subject to satisfactory audit assessments. This allows for one full growing season to demonstrate their commitment and ability to manage the Micro Plot.

At the end of the full rental season, the Association and the City Council will take a decision on whether or not to offer the Micro Plot Holder a larger plot based on the audit assessment. (Micro Plot Holders will have a ‘Right of Appeal’ which can be submitted to the Environmental Services Manager).

If the Micro Plot is not being worked satisfactorily, the Micro Plot holder will not progress to a larger plot and the assessment could result in the plot being re-claimed.

If no ½, ¾, or full sized plots are available at the progression stage, the Micro Plot holder will be able to continue using the Micro Plot until one becomes available.

Micro Plot – Downsizing

Micro Plots can also be acquired by allotment holders who have worked a plot for a number of years and who now feel that they are unable to continue with their plot and may benefit from downsizing to a Micro Plot should one become available.

Additional Information

Micro Plots were created for ‘Starter’ and ‘Downsizing’ use, however in very exceptional cases and with the full discretion of the Council these Micro Plots can be used on longer term tenancies.

 What is not Permitted on a Micro Plot

 The following are not permitted on a Micro Plot:

  • Garden sheds and greenhouses.
  • Trees & Shrubs (Other than fruit bearing trees on dwarf rootstocks and fruiting bushes). These fruit bearing trees & fruiting bushes should be removed when the plot is vacated.
  • Permanent pathways.
  • Carpets cannot be used as a weed suppressant or to provide a surface for paths.
  • Machinery left on site.
  • Fences (unless appropriately authorised by the Council).

The relevant Micro Plot Holders are responsible

for the maintenance of any outer perimeter fencing of the allotment

the Micro Plots are located on.


 What is Permitted on a Micro Plot

The following will be permitted on a Micro Plot:

  • Compost area not exceeding 1 cubic metre or;
  • Compost bin up to 1,000 litres.
  • Garden storage unit up to 1.5m wide x 1m deep x 1m high.


Vacating a Micro Plot

Following progression to a larger plot, Micro Plots should always be left in an appropriate condition for the next potential Micro Plot Holder.

Allotment – Additional Guidance Notes on General Plot/Site Safety


 All waste from an allotment must be dealt with by individual allotment holders within their own allotment. Organic waste can be composted on site, however some material can also be burnt. All other waste must be removed off site and disposed of in a legal and diligent manner.

Under no circumstances will the burning of painted wood, tyres, plastics, rubber etc, be permitted.

The lighting of bonfires should not be carried out during inappropriate weather conditions or time of day where a nuisance to fellow plotters and neighbours will prevail.

Any bonfire will have to be extinguished properly and completely before being left unattended.

The Fire Brigade must be notified of any controlled bonfire.


The allotment holder will maintain and keep in good repair any fence, gate, shed or greenhouse on their allotment garden. Health & Safety should be a priority regarding the upkeep of these features.

Fences can be built using different types of commercially available materials however, where the use of recycled materials is proposed, then approval from the Service will be required. Barbed Wire on any fence is not permitted.

The height and location of certain fences may cause concern to fellow allotment holders, accordingly please contact your Allotment Representative, or the Service for advice before erecting your new fence.

Under no circumstances will the use of Asbestos sheeting or Asbestos based materials be permitted. Aberdeen City Council is at present carrying out a survey of the existence of asbestos at all allotment sites.


Ponds that are planned and maintained properly pose a potential risk but this is far outweighed by the numerous benefits to wildlife and the enjoyment they give to people of all ages. Ramshackle water tubs and overgrown ‘ad hoc’ ponds’ will not be allowed.

Allotment holders can contact the Wildlife Trust or Froglife or The Pond Conservation Trust for useful information in the construction and management of ponds.

The suitability of the site and the level of open access and users will be contributory factors in the application of building a pond on one of the allotment sites.

Plot holders must ask for permission before building a pond and this will be granted or declined at the discretion of the Service, subject to conditions as to fencing or maintenance as the Service determines.

Where ponds are permitted, children should be supervised at all times and warning signs on site will be required.

Wildlife Areas/Bio-Diversity

Whilst the service is happy for allotment holders to encourage bio-diversity on their plots, this must be done within the constraints of good allotment management. It will not be accepted as an excuse for poor cultivation practices.

Parking and Access

Parking is only permitted within existing designated areas.

Please do not park and block access tracks for other users other than when loading/unloading is required. However, be prepared to move and allow access for fellow plotholders.

 Please Note

 These Guidance Notes have been produced by Aberdeen City Council, Housing & Environment Services (Allotment Team) to deal with Frequently asked Questions and issues and are not definitive of all matters arising and should not be construed as regulations.



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