Politics

New ‘Airbnb for gardens’ in London a solution to allotment waiting lists

Lockdown has brought home the reality of living in properties with little or no outdoor space and, even as restrictions ease, a garden remains a luxury for many people in the capital.

Londoners have been cooped up in small flats without a green space and while flat dwelling has become the norm, many of us have craved the outdoors at a time when we’ve spent our working and home lives stuck inside.

But now an architect turned entrepreneur has come up with an ingenious solution to tackle the chronic shortage of available outdoor space.

AllotMe is a new digital platform and is being described as an ‘Airbnb for gardens’.

Connor Gallagher, AllotMe founder

The site pairs people looking for somewhere to grow their own with anyone who has an available outdoor space, allowing them to rent plots in just a few clicks.

Conor Gallagher came up with the idea in response to the rising demand for space in urban environments and noticed that London was especially bad.

The 30-year-old, who grew up in Belfast, said: “After I moved to London I saw how people wanted to eat more healthily, ethically and sustainably but faced barriers such as a lack of space or excessive cost.

“So many people have no garden or access to outside space, and obtaining an allotment through traditional routes is difficult. There’s a huge desire for sustainable living but often no way of satisfying it.”

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The demand for allotments surged during lockdown. One in five local authorities have allotment waiting lists of more than 1,000 people, and two-thirds have waiting lists of between 100 and 400, according to the Association for Public Service Excellence.

Londoners wanting to grow their own who have applied for plots are likely to face a long wait. The longest waiting list for a single allotment was at Bushy Park in Richmond-upon-Thames with 637 people on the list.

According to the National Allotment Society (NAS): “New sites are being created up and down the country, and planning authorities are asking developers to include allotment space in their plans. But there’s a lot more demand than availability.”

On the growing trend among millennials keen to grow their own Conner said: “These are people wanting to live in a more sustainable way, and who are interested in where their food comes from.

“There are also huge mental health benefits to being outdoors, active and growing things.”

Connor also sees the platform as an opportunity for communities to come together and encourage people to share a love of the outdoors, planting and growing.

Hundreds of people have signed up to the platform and plots are likely to cost renters between £15 and £30 a month, depending on size, with a percentage fee going to AllotMe.

To find out more visit the website.



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