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Nature blog - Jenny Bourne

Introducing
The RPA Nature blog with Jenny Bourne.

Watch the seasons unfold right here at our very own allotments

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Regulations

 

 

Conditions of tenancy

These are the conditions which all tenants sign up to when they take on a plot.

  1. The yearly rental must be paid in advance. It is due on the first day in October in each year and must be paid during that month. If this is not done the Management Committee reserves to itself the right to re-let the plot to another tenant after giving seven days’ notice in writing to the occupier.
  2. Except as provided for in conditions 1, 3 and 5 the tenancy shall be terminated on either side by three months’ notice ending 31 March or 30 September, or by agreement on both sides.
  3. The tenant must put and keep a legible number on the plot, cultivate the plot properly, also keep it, the half of road in front and the path between the plots, free from encumbrances and of weeds, which may injure surrounding plots. If a plotholder neglects to keep the plot, or the path for which he or she is responsible, in a reasonable state of cultivation or cleanliness at any time between 1 March and 31 October, seven days’ warning will be given to put the plot in order. If the fault is not remedied in that time a final seven days’ notice will be given to terminate the tenancy at the completion of the seven days, if the plot has not been put in order by that time.
    Any tenant planting large trees or bushes of any kind on their plot will do so at their own risk, as any such bushes or trees must be removed within one month after due notice in writing has been given to the tenant.
  4. Dogs or other animals must be kept on a lead if brought on the allotment grounds, and must not be allowed to run loose. Continued complaints from other plotholders will result in the offender receiving notice to give up the plot.
  5. The tenant must not sublet any portion of his or her plot or pass it over to another person without the consent of the Paddocks Allotments Committee given through its Clerk; if this is done the Committee may at once resume possession of the plot. If the tenant has more land than can be properly cultivated, he or she should notify the Clerk, who will meet them as far as possible, while taking into consideration the applicants on the waiting list desiring plots.
  6. The tenant must act in accordance with any instructions which may from time to time be posted on the notice board by the Committee for the welfare of the plotholders.
  7. The security of tenants against pilfering is endangered by the gates being left unfastened; plotholders are therefore urged to fasten both small and large gates when they leave the allotments.
  8. An incinerator is provided and plotholders are expected to make good use of it, especially when they have diseased produce, which, if left on the ground, is likely to infect other plots.

 

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Etiquette

To make our allotment experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible for everyone, we ask that you observe a few simple, additional rules:

 

  • Don’t walk on someone else’s plot unless you are invited by the plotholder.
  • Don’t scrape your boots or tools onto paths or neighbouring plots.
  • Do not leave diseased or blighted crops on your plot. Please remove so that they do not infect neighbouring plots. Either take them to your local tip or burn them in the incinerator.
  • Using the paths between plots as shortcuts is not permitted. Stick to the main roads when moving around the site.
  • Children must be confined to your own plot and not permitted to play on the main roads or stray onto other plots. An allotment site is not a safe environment for unsupervised children.
  • Parties/BBQs on plots are not permitted.
  • The walls surrounding the site are a listed structure and are maintained by the Royal Parks. As a listed structure, nothing may be fixed to these walls by any method, nail, screw or otherwise. Nor may any other items or structures be placed so as to be visible from a pedestrian level outside the allotment site.

 

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Plot inspections

All plots are inspected several times during the course of the year in order to ensure that tenants are meeting the conditions of their tenancy (see clause 3, above). Inspections are carried out in early April, in late May, during July or August (when candidates for best plot are proposed) and at the beginning of September (when plots that need attention before their tenancy can be renewed are identified).

 

The inspection system

Expectations are not unrealistic, and are simply designed to maintain an overall standard that benefits all the tenants on the site. So, what are inspectors looking for? These are the key things.

 

  • Is the plot being kept in “a reasonable state of cultivation”? A plot is in a reasonable state of cultivation if the majority of the plot is actively used for growing vegetables, fruit or flowers.
  • Are boundary paths obvious, unobstructed and safely usable?
  • Are weeds being allowed to go to seed and spread to neighbouring plots?
  • Has inorganic rubbish or waste been brought on to the plot and allowed to accumulate?
  • Is the plot number clearly visible at the front of the plot?

 

If a poor plot is identified, two members of the Plotholders’ Committee are asked to inspect it. If they confirm that it is unacceptable, a warning letter is sent to the plotholder – unless the plotholder has already received warning letters for failing the two previous consecutive inspections or has received three warning letters for failing three inspections in the previous 24 months, in which case the Committee may implement Further grounds for eviction (see below).

 

The warning letter:

  • indicates areas of concern and suggests work that should be carried out to bring the plot up to an acceptable standard,
  • names a date by which the work should be completed – not less than a month,
  • asks the plotholder to notify the Plotholders’ Committee of any mitigating circumstances or anything that is unclear,
  • reminds the plotholder that he or she must comply with the conditions of their tenancy (see clause 3, above).

 

Whenever possible, the same two members of the Plotholders’ Committee re-inspect the plot on or shortly after the notified date and come to a decision as to whether the plot is now satisfactory.

 

If the work has not been carried out and the plot is considered still unsatisfactory, a second warning letter is sent giving seven days’ notice to put the plot in order. The actual date given allows three additional working days for postal delivery.

 

A re-inspection on or after the notified date is conducted by three members of the Plotholders’ Committee, who confirm that the work has been completed satisfactorily. If it has not, then a decision whether or not to evict the tenant is made by a simple majority of the Plotholders’ Committee. If the decision is to evict, a letter giving seven days’ notice to quit and clear the plot of personal possessions is sent by recorded delivery, allowing three additional working days for postal delivery. The plotholder may appeal against this decision to the Management Committee.

 

Further grounds for eviction

If a plotholder fails three inspections in a row, and receives warning letters for the first two failures, then the Plotholders’ Committee is entitled to send a notice of eviction after the third failed inspection.

 

If a plotholder fails four inspections within a 24-month period, and receives warning letters for the first three failures, then the Plotholders’ Committee is entitled to send a notice of eviction after the fourth failed inspection.

 

The Plotholders’ Committee may take mitigating circumstances into account but reserves the right to terminate the tenancy notwithstanding these circumstances.

 

Annual best plots competition

Inspectors highlight plots that have been cultivated to a standard that is above the norm. They are reviewed by judges who award points to each plot in the categories: best full plot, best half plot, and best newcomer. Account is taken of how long the plotholder has had the plot and the state of the plot when it was taken on. Certificates are awarded at the Annual General Meeting for 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes in each category, with a cup being awarded to the 1st prizewinner in the full plot category.

 

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Sheds

The site is on Crown land, and you must obtain permission from the Plotholders’ Committee before you erect a shed. If you want to put up a shed, this is what to do:

 

RPA allotment shed
  • Make an initial request by emailing the committee member who deals with shed applications on sheds@paddocks-allotments.org.uk, by speaking to the committee member on duty on Sunday mornings, or by leaving a letter marked “Shed Application” in the mail box at the main entrance gate. Please give your plot number and be clear where on your plot you are requesting permission to site your shed.
  • The committee will contact tenants on either side of your plot to make sure everyone is in agreement about where your shed should be sited. A shed cannot be placed where it shades your neighbour’s plot. Any shade must be on your plot, not on your neighbour’s. The approval process may take up to a month, depending on holidays.
  • When consent is given, pay a deposit of £20 for your shed to the committee member on duty on Sunday mornings. The deposit is refundable and will be returned to whoever removes the shed.
  • The maximum size of the shed is 7ftx 5ft x7ft high from ground level. It must be constructed of wood and be of a natural wood colour. No permanent base (e.g., concrete) may used, although slabs on a sand base are acceptable.
  • Ensure you allow a margin of at least 18in (45cm) between the base of your shed and plot path boundary.
  • Sheds must be kept in a safe state of repair.
  • Do not store fuel or fuel cans in your shed.
  • Failure to keep to these regulations will result in you being required to remove your shed.

 

The Royal Paddocks Allotments has no insurance policy covering personal possessions on site, so any items that your shed contains are stored there at your own risk.

 

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Greenhouses and polytunnels

No glass structures are permitted on site. However, certain structures constructed from plastic/polycarbonate sheeting may be allowed. Please seek permission from a member of the Plotholders' Committee before proceeding.

 

Walk-in polytunnels are permitted as long as the maximum footprint is 15ft x10ft. Please note this is the total area allowed on each plot.

 

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Cars and parking

We have very limited space on site for car parking, so we urge you whenever possible to leave your car at home or to park offsite, particularly on summer weekends when the site can become very congested.

 

On occasions when you have to bring your car onsite, please observe the following:

  • There is space to accommodate a few cars in front of the Seed Store Cafe and on some of the corners of the main roads. Please use these rather than parking in front of your plot.
  • If you have to stop in front of your plot to unload, please ensure your car is hard up against the edge of your own plot to allow pedestrians and cyclists to pass on the other side without having to step on your neighbour’s plot.
  • Park considerately, in a spot that does not obstruct others, and please be ready to move your car if requested. Make sure you display your plot number in your car so you can be contacted if necessary.

car parking permit

 

Download and print out this parking sign for your car windscreen

 

We are lucky to have dedicated volunteers who open and lock the main gates every morning and evening, come rain or shine. Please observe the notice on the shed at the entrance and on the vehicle gates detailing lock-up times. The volunteers do not walk round the site to check for cars before locking the gates; it is your responsibility to remove your car from the site before lock-up time. If you allow your car to be locked in, it will remain there overnight until the gates are opened in the morning.

 

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Gates and security

Security is real issue. There have been several thefts and instances of vandalism in recent years. We can help maintain security by taking a few simple precautions:

 

  • Do not leave the vehicle cage gates and the pedestrian door open and unattended. Always close them behind you when entering and leaving the site even if they were already open. (Drop both bolts into the ground and slide the bar across.) You enter through the pedestrian door and open the vehicle gates from the inside. The gates must not be left open for deliveries, visitors or any other reason.
  • If someone you don’t recognize attempts to come in with you, please try to confirm that they are plotholders by asking for their plot number.
  • If you see any suspicious persons or activity on the site, report it to a committee member or, if you believe a crime is in progress, call 999. The plot numbers of committee members are posted on the notice-boards.
  • If you experience theft or damage/vandalism on your plot, please report it to a committee member.

 

GATES OPEN
8.30 am all year round

 

GATES CLOSE

4.00 pm
1 December – 31 January

 

5.00 pm
1 February – 28 February

 

6.00 pm
1 March – last Sunday in March (when clocks go forward)

 

7.00 pm
Last Sunday in March (when clocks go forward) – last Sunday in October (when clocks go back)

 

5.00 pm
Last Sunday in October (when clocks go back) – 30 November

 

CHRISTMAS DAY and BOXING DAY
Gates are closed all day

 

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Bonfires and the incinerator

Between 1 April and 30 September, bonfires are not permitted on plots. The incinerator may be used to burn dry organic matter between these dates provided the cafe is not open and there is no cricket match taking place at the club behind our boundary wall in Bushy Park. Match dates will be posted on the notice boards.

 

The incinerator is a fast and efficient means of burning rubbish and is easy to use. Please follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t burn too much at one time, as the structure is weakened if it gets too hot.
  • The material to be burned should be placed on the rack inside the incinerator and lit. The metal sheet should then be slid into place behind the bar to close off the fire. The metal sheet becomes very hot when the incinerator is in use so check before you handle it and wear heavy gloves.
  • Make sure the fire has burned right down before you leave the site. Please leave the area around the incinerator clean and tidy after you have finished burning and remove the ash from below the rack – it can be used in your compost bins.
  • Do not leave rubbish on the rack inside the incinerator for someone else to burn.

 

Between 1 October and 31 March, bonfires can be lit on plots, although we encourage you to use the incinerator whenever possible. If you have to light a bonfire on your plot, please comply with the following:

  • Do not light a bonfire on a windy day, particularly when the wind will blow smoke towards the surrounding residential properties.
  • Check with neighbouring plotholders who may be downwind of your smoke whether they have any objection to you lighting a bonfire.
  • Do not burn damp or wet material.
  • Ensure your bonfire is located such that stray sparks and embers will not endanger nearby sheds, toolchests, etc.
  • Make sure you completely extinguish your bonfire before you leave your plot.

 

Please note that only dry organic material (diseased plant matter, scrap timber, etc.) may be burned. Plastic, carpets, nets, etc. or other synthetic materials that give off noxious fumes and leave chemical residues in the ash must not be burned either on plots or in the incinerator.

 

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Rubbish

Please help minimise the amount of rubbish that accumulates on the site.

  • Do not bring onto your plot items that “may perhaps be useful”. This is how most allotment rubbish accumulates. If you have a planned use for a recycled item, bring it on site when you are ready to use it. Otherwise leave it at home or take it to the tip!
  • Dispose of your rubbish as it accumulates rather than waiting until a there is a huge unmanageable quantity.
  • If you have inherited a lot of inorganic rubbish on your plot which you are unable to dispose of yourself, please contact a member of the Plotholders’ Committee.

 

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Trees

Existing trees on plots must be constrained within the boundaries of the plot and not be allowed to encroach on paths/roads or cause a shade or root nuisance to neighbouring plots.

 

Please remove any self-sown broadleaf and conifer seedlings as these are not suitable on an allotment site.

 

If you wish to plant fruit trees on your plot, you should ensure that the rootstock is of a suitable dwarf variety and that the trees are planted a minimum of 5ft (1.5m) from paths.

 

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