A report on the matter was brought before the local authority’s environmental services committee on Thursday, January 6. Members were informed the council will be launching an online survey to judge where or if, there is enough interest in providing the borough’s citizens with allotment space.
The survey will run for a period of eight weeks and once completed, officers will provide councillors who sit on the committee with options on how best to move forward on the matter.
Speaking at the meeting, Alliance Party Councillor Eoin Tennyson said he would be delighted if this process resulted in an enhancement of allotment provision in the borough.
“It is great to see the online consultation coming forward to determine what the demand is in the community,” he said.
“I know allotment projects have been successful in other parts of Northern Ireland and there are good private providers here so it would be fantastic if, out of this process, we could enhance our own provision or even have better partnerships with those providers in the borough.
“That would be really positive for those in the borough who want to grow their own food.”
Ulster Unionist Party Councillor Julie Flaherty told the chamber she believed there would be strong demand for this service.
“I suspect there will be a huge interest in these allotments,” said Cllr Flaherty.
“In the centre of Portadown there is a vegetable group, the group attached to that has 200 members and some of them are growing at home and learning how to use what they grow.
“Recycling, composting, you name it, there are over 200 members there in the centre of Portadown. That is a good gauge of the level of interest and we are very proud of the guys at sustain who have worked very hard over lockdown too.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Tennyson continued to speak highly of the proposal and noted the strong demand for allotment space in other council areas.
“Community allotments can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing, and on the local environment,” said Cllr Tennyson.
“We have some fantastic allotment providers in the borough. However, there is clearly huge demand and it would be fantastic to see greater council support for existing providers and potentially even some new council-owned sites.
I first raised the issue of allotment provision at committee in September. It’s fantastic to see progress on the matter. The proposed survey will be good news to many local residents who wish to grow their own food but don’t currently have access to appropriate facilities.
“Information presented at committee clearly highlighted the popularity of allotments in other areas with both Antrim and Newtownabbey and Mid and East Antrim Council, with some having waiting lists of five years or more.
“Once the online survey has been completed, Council will analyse the results to determine if there is demand additional allotment provision and put plans in place to meet that demand.”