Campaigning allotment holders in Leeds have today won their legal challenge against Leeds City Council over a planned rent increase to their plots.
In a decision handed down at the High Court in Leeds, Judge Behrens ruled that the proposed new rents from 2014 onwards would be quashed.
Campaigners had previously branded as “unreasonable” Leeds City Council’s proposals to increase their rents and other changes to plot ownership, which they say could be “a nail in the coffin of the city’s grow-your-own culture”. The Leeds and District Allotment Gardeners Federation (LDAGF) challenged the proposals agreed by the council last September, which would also have seen a reduction in the proportion of the income that associations retain to maintain sites.
The organisation last year issued an application in the High Court for a judicial review, which was heard in Leeds this morning.
Lawyer Alex Peebles, who is representing the LDAGF, said at the time the action was launched: “Our clients are part of a devoted and passionate gardening community who not only enjoy growing their own produce but also offer their fruit and vegetables free of charge to local hospices and drop-in centres for the homeless.
“They are hugely concerned that the council’s decision, which may only serve to price many allotment owners out, has been made without the necessary care and consideration. They are focused now on ensuring that the voices of all of those affected are heard and the legal remedy they seek is to get these proposals reconsidered.”
Ian Wood of the LDAGF, added: “We appreciate that the council is under a lot of financial pressure. But so are our members. It’s just not right that the council is able to put up the rent very significantly for individual members and at the same time expect the allotment associations to continue to maintain the sites to a high standard.”
A spokesperson for Leeds City Council declined to comment ahead of the court ruling.