Places of urban disorder? Exposing the hidden nature and values of an English private urban allotment landscape

Alister Scott, Andrew Dean, Veronica Barry, Richard Kotter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Increasing urbanisation is placing significant development pressure upon urban spaces and green infrastructure. Allotments have strong cultural roots in the urban domain with emerging evidence of multiple health and quality of life benefits associated with their use, management and existence. However, they increasingly represent a remnant landscape, out of order and unproductive according to conventional economic assessments of urban landuse. Allotments are contested spaces; seen as opportunity spaces for redevelopment to meet housing demands or as growing spaces for escape and socialisation. This paper employs a phenomenological approach to explore the values and perceptions of plotholders, residents, planning managers and allotment bodies relating to one privately owned allotment in Dudley, West Midlands, UK. Our focus on private allotments fills an important research (lack of information on ownership and spatial extent) and policy gap (treated differently to public allotments as open space in planning policy). Semi-structured interviews reveal that the allotment site is valued by plotholders and nearby residents on a wide range of ecosystem services and community benefits with only minor concerns about modern allotment infrastructure and bonfires. This positive picture reflects strong local governance and positive community relationships. However, there was a misunderstanding among residents that the allotment had equal protection as a public site. It is recommended that planning policy treats both public and private sites equally and that more research is conducted on the ownership, distribution and governance of private allotment sites given their critical roles in urban planning and placemaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-198
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Early online date21 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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