This page contains information about allotments, including how to apply for one, how much it costs and how to raise enquiries.
We own 159 allotment sites across the county. Of these, we manage 106 sites and Allotment Associations manage 53 sites on our behalf. There are other allotment sites in the county that are owned by town or parish councils - you should contact them if you are interested in or have a question about one of their sites.
Find and apply for an allotment
Use the map to find allotment sites near you. The map shows who owns the allotment and who manages it. Allotments we own are either managed by us or by an allotment association on our behalf. You can apply for a plot on any of these sites by joining their waiting list using our apply for an allotment form. You must be over 18 and live in County Durham to apply.
Allotments on a map
Where no details are displayed, you may be able to find out who manages the site by visiting it and speaking to plot holders on the site.
The annual rent period for allotments that we directly manage, runs from 1 November to 31 October. You will receive your invoice by 15 November, or within two weeks of taking over your plot. Your payment due date is included in your invoice.
Our rents are calculated based on the average plot size on each site (total area of allotment site divided by the number of allotment plots equals the average plot size per site.) These are then grouped into six bands.
Details of current and future rent charges for each allotment size band are shown in the table below.
Details of allotment charges for each size band:
|Allotment site band
|Average plot size per site
|Annual rent charged on 1 November 2023
|1m2 - 150m2
|151m2 - 200m2
|201m2 - 250m2
|251m2 - 300m2
|301m2 - 350m2
|351m2 and above
Plot rents on Allotment Association run sites
Plot rents on Allotment Association run sites are set by the members of the association. Please contact the relevant association for more details.
Manage your plot(s)
Use the apply for an allotment form to see the plots that you are a tenant of. You can:
- ask a question about your plot or any of our other sites
- end your tenancy
- remove a co-worker
- see what waiting lists you are on, and where you are in the list
- view waiting lists for other sites
- leave and join waiting lists
Ending a tenancy
You are required to return your plot in a condition that is the same as or better than when you took it over. If you fail to do that, you are liable for the cost of any work needed to bring it back to the same standard. You can notify us of your intention to give up your plot by using the apply for an allotment form but you continue to be responsible for it until we complete all inspections. We will keep you updated, and advise you when you are no longer liable.
The council has recently introduced a revised tenancy agreement to harmonise the arrangements across the sites that we run. The revised agreement is very similar to most agreements already in force and existing tenants will be moved onto it over the coming months. New tenants will be issued the revised agreement from the start.
The tenancy agreement used on each of our allotment association run sites will be based on the standard agreement, however, allotment associations have some flexibility to change some of the clauses to suit local circumstances.
A copy of the standard revised agreement can be downloaded from the Document Downloads section on this page. The same section also includes a set of frequently asked questions to explain why the revised agreement is being brought in and what the implications may be for existing tenants. It also includes details of how long existing tenants will have to change how they use their plot from the date that their revised agreement starts.
Additional rules on Allotment Association run sites
In addition to the rules set out in tenancy agreements, plot holders on association run sites may also be required to follow extra rules regarding the running of the association. These are agreed by the members of the association and, if you take a plot on an association site you will be informed of any extra rules by them. You will also have a right to vote on changes to rules at future general meetings.
Frequently asked questions about our allotments
How long will I have to wait for an allotment?
Allotments are offered on a 'first come, first served' basis and a waiting list is held for each allotment site. It is impossible to determine a waiting time, as allotment plots usually only become available when an existing tenant gives up their tenancy. Use the apply for an allotment form to see where you are on the waiting list.
Can I share my allotment with someone else?
We only allow one tenant per plot. However, each tenant can have one co-worker per plot. It is up to the person who wants to be a co-worker to use the apply for an allotment form to apply to be a co-worker. You will then receive a notification of the co-worker request, which you should accept or decline.
What is a co-worker?
A co-worker is someone who can register to help you with the maintenance of the plot. The co-worker has no legal tenancy rights or responsibilities. Sub-letting to co-workers is not allowed, so you must still have regular involvement in the maintenance of the plot. A co-worker will remain registered until either the tenant or co-worker decides to remove the co-worker or until the tenant gives up the plot.
Can the co-worker take over the main tenancy when the tenant gives up the plot?
Being a registered co-worker when a tenant gives up the plot does not give you an automatic right to take it over. Instead, we will offer you the plot, only if you have been registered as the co-worker for at least 5 years or you are the person at the top of the site waiting list.
Can I keep livestock?
Please contact us if you are thinking about keeping any animals on your plot as we must grant you permission to do so before you bring the animals onto you plot. Under our standard tenancy agreement, we will usually only give permission for tenants to keep hens, rabbits, pigeons, ducks or geese. Tenants on sites run by an allotment association should consult their specific tenancy agreement for a list of the animals that they can normally expect to be granted permission to keep. In all cases, the keeping of animals on a plot must not prevent you from complying with any of the other terms of your agreement including the need to cultivate a certain percentage of the plot.
Do I have to grow fruit and vegetables throughout the year?
Your tenancy agreement will set out how much of the plot you must use for this purpose. As a minimum, we expect cultivation to take place during the main spring to autumn growing season and for the plot to be actively used throughout the year. Active use includes growing but can also include preparing the ground for cultivation or doing routine maintenance jobs like strimming back uncultivated areas, tidying up, and sorting out items retained for re-use. Although we do not require growing all year round, it is possible to do so and advice on this and other monthly allotment tasks can be found through the Royal Horticultural Society: Grow Your Own and The Allotment Society - growing advice.
Can I have bonfires?
Bonfires are not banned for tenants on our direct let site, however, it is essential that they do not cause a nuisance to surrounding residents. The general guidance points below should be followed if you do intend to have a bonfire on your plot:
- Keep bonfires to a minimum.
- Only have a bonfire if it does not affect neighbours and nearby residents (be aware of wind direction and whether other plot holders on the site have had a fire recently).
- Only burn waste generated on your plot and try to use a device that will contain the fire, for example, an incinerator bin.
- Always have quick burning fires, using dry materials and allow it to burn out whilst you're still present on site.
- Do not burn household rubbish, tyres, plastic or foam materials or similar as many of these give off toxic fumes and dense smoke.
- Do not burn rubbish from a business on an allotment.
- Do not leave a bonfire unattended.
- Do not allow the bonfire to burn overnight.
- Be ready to put the fire out if you receive any complaints.
Tenants on sites run by allotment associations should consult their individual tenancy agreement for rules on burning.
What should I do if there is an illegally lit bonfire?
You can Report an illegally lit fire (Please see our )
What is an allotment association?
An association is a community group that exists to represent and work for its members. Who can be a member and how the association operates is set out in its constitution, however, in most cases the members will just be the plot holders on the site and they will each be entitled to vote on significant issues in an annual general meeting. Day-to-day decisions are usually made by the committee members who are elected each year at the annual general meeting.
Why does an allotment association run my site?
Where an association wants to become involved in the running of its site, it can ask to work in partnership with the Council. Under such arrangements, the site continues to fall under the Council's policy for running allotments and the plot holders remain tenants of the Council so they must comply with its tenancy agreement; however, the association oversee the daily management of the site and tenants including being responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the site. The Council's allotment staff are available to provide advice and support to committee to help them deliver on their role and the association is allowed to decide what rent to charge and to use all the rent generated from the site. Where it works well, such local involvement usually delivers a better quality site.
What determines whether an association arrangement will work well?
There are several factors that determine whether an association will be effective at running a site and it is the role of all the members to ensure their committee are following such an approach. The key factors include:
- The association has a constitution and the rules and processes in it are complied with for all activities.
- The association holds an annual general meeting at which all members are provided with updates on the financial position of the association and the work undertaken by the committee in the previous 12 months.
- The association allows all members of vote on significant issues at the general meeting including the election of the committee, changes to the constitution and rules of the association, the setting of rent levels and membership fees, and which significant improvement activities will be taken forward over the coming 12 months.
- The committee develops and maintains a forward financial plan that identifies likely future costs and that is used to determine the rent level.
- The committee provide regular, clear and open communication regarding the activities and financial position of the association and the work of the committee.
- The committee provides members with a clear means of raising concerns or suggestions and ensures they are considered and addressed in an open, fair and legal manner.
- The committee works in partnership with the Council to ensure plots are let in accordance with the Council's policy and that tenants are held accountable for using and maintaining their plots in accordance with their tenancy agreement.
- The committee maintains good records of all the association's activities.
What if my association isn't running our site effectively?
It is every members' responsibility to try to ensure this is not the case. Where members are concerned, they should try to address the issue by putting suggestions to the committee and, if that doesn't solve the problem, they should try to call a general meeting to propose a change to the committee.
If the Council attempts to resolve a problem haven't worked or if it identifies its own concerns, it will investigate. If the investigation backs up the concerns, the Council could terminate the association's right to run the site, however, in most cases the plot holders will be written to and given a chance to take their own action to address the concerns first
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