The council has ruled out hopping into the allotment bed with a firm backed by a hedge fund, it was announced this afternoon (Thursday 20 July).
A request had been made to Brighton and Hove City Council by a private allotment company called Roots Allotments.
Roots, which has been described as a premium-priced business backed by venture capitalists, wanted to lease land at Easthill Farm, in Portslade, from the council.
Roots charges £9.99 a month – just under £120 a year – for a 12 square metre “mini-plot” in Bath, according to the company’s website.
A 36 square metre “starter plot” costs £19.99 a month (£240 a year) and a 72 square metre “couple’s plot” costs £34.99 a month (£420 a year).
In contrast, the council’s standard – or “full-size” – plots are 250 square metres and when charges go up in October will cost £90 a year. It offers smaller and cheaper plots.
The council said that it would be “looking at alternative options … that best support the aims of the City Downland Estate Plan when the existing tenancy expires next year”.
It added: “The options will consider how the site can increase biodiversity, improve public access and fulfil some of the many objectives in the City Downland Estate Plan.
“The council’s Allotment Strategy aims to make allotments enjoyable, inclusive, sustainable and affordable for Brighton and Hove residents.
“Next steps to modernise the allotment service include installing a new IT system so that it can better manage its 3,000 allotment tenancies.
“The new system is designed to streamline the waiting list and allow residents to check their position online.”
The council said that it had managed to fill job roles that were advertised so would be able to take on more thorough plot inspections, clear unused plots more efficiently and reduce wait times for residents.
Councillor Tim Rowkins, who chairs the council’s City Environment, South Downs and the Sea Committee, said: “We’ve considered the proposal from Roots Allotments and have decided not to proceed with it.
“Instead, we’ll be focusing on improving our own allotment provision in the city, including reducing waiting lists, modernising our provision to reflect the range of demand, bringing in much-needed income for the council and, of course, enabling more of our residents to grow food in a sustainable way.
“We are blessed to have so much agricultural land and we are determined to put it to good use for the good of our city’s food, sustainability and biodiversity goals.”
The Roots proposal had previously been criticised by Mark Carroll, who chairs the Brighton and Hove Allotments Federation and who said that the council was listening to allotment holders’ concerns.
He said recently that more than 3,000 people were on the waiting list for an allotment in Brighton and Hove.
Roots founder William Gay, 28, a director of Allota Futureland Limited, said previously that the company was considering a second site in the area – on private agricultural land in Ovingdean.