Allotments have become a popular hobby for people across London, especially as the cost-of-living crisis continues post-pandemic. Brits report that after the initial work to get their allotment going, they save hundreds on food bills, consuming a range of fruits and vegetables produced from their plot.
In the past year (to July 2023), food prices have risen by almost 15%, according to the ONS Consumer Price Index. So, it’s no wonder people are increasingly looking for alternative ways to cut household spending. However, some residents will be able to make bigger savings than others due to allotment costs and availability varying across the boroughs.
Our latest report uses FOI request data to compare 24 London Council areas, revealing where the best place to rent an allotment is in London. As we saw in our previous report into England’s allotment’s (Metropolitan Councils outside of London), the capital city also has disparities in the current number of sites, plots and rental costs. Meaning that some councils better serve their communities than others.
London Councils with the most Council run plots per 100,000 people
The three Borough Councils which have the highest number of plots per 100,000 people are all based in South London. Sutton, topped the list with 1,223 plots available per 100,000 people. This was followed by Richmond upon Thames with 1,032 and Bexley with 851.
Enfield and Haringey also have a high proportion of Council run plots, coming in at 785 plots and 727 plots respectively. The North London Boroughs placed 4th and 5th in our report under this section.
London Councils with the most plots per 100,000 people (Council run and Independents combined)
Sutton and Richmond upon Thames switched places when both Council run and independently run plot numbers were combined. Richmond upon Thames places first, with the total number of plots per 100,000 people reaching 1,231, whilst Sutton Borough Council remained at 1,032 plots per 100,000 people.
In addition, Bromley pushed Haringey out of the top five once independent allotments were taken into account. The south east London borough placed just behind Sutton, with 1,026 plots per 100,000 residents. Meaning that four out of the five top locations were southerly boroughs.
London Councils with the least and most expensive average plot cost
The people to plot ratio is an important factor, however, cost is also crucial for many. Our research shows that the average cost of a plot can vary hugely across the boroughs. Locations such as Richmond may have a high number of plots per person, the costs are also higher. The average plot cost is £109, according to FOI data provided by the council. Around six times the average cost in Ealing, where residents pay on average £18 for a plot.
Ealing is the cheapest in terms of average plot cost, priced at just £18 for the year. Lambeth, Hackney, Islington and Hillingdon’s residents can also expect to pay £38 or lower for an average plot. These figures are impressive, given the average plot cost in Brent is around ten times this price, sitting at £372.
Least expensive average plot cost in London
Most expensive average plot cost in London
The lowest plot cost available in London can be found in Harrow, priced at £6.40. This provides a more accessible entry to allotment ownership than other boroughs where the starting price can be as high as £73. Discounts offered by allotments can significantly help those on modest incomes. It’s great to see that 88% of London’s allotments offer some form of discount, which is much higher than what we found in the rest of England. Outside of London only 56% of allotments offer discounts to tenants.
What’s interesting though, is that the average plot cost in London is only £6 higher than the rest of England, meaning tenants pay just 50 pence per month more than those living outside of the capital. London residents pay on average £90, whilst elsewhere the average is £84. This is quite surprising given the high land costs and demand in the capital city.
Our research shows that the barriers to accessing allotment plots in London are extremely location dependent. For those wanting to get started on their allotment journey, only 42% of London Borough Councils have plots with immediate availability and over a third of waitlists are currently closed too (38%).
Whilst allotment availability and costs in London and the rest of England may vary by location, the benefits of allotment gardening remain the same. These range across both mental health and physical health benefits, to improved socialisation and even financial benefits longer term too.
- Google search data via Keywordtool.io 26th June 2023
- FOI requests sent to 24 London Borough Councils in July/August 2023
- Full data available upon request
- There are multiple factors at play with each council managing their city’s allotments differently. Therefore, we have standardised the FOI data, as much as reasonably possible for fair comparison between each council area.