Plot Inspections

Before Tamworth Farm Allotments became self-managed in 2015, plot inspections were the responsibility of Merton Council. Now that we are a self-managed site inspections are carried out by members of the TFAS Committee. The inspection process takes place between April and October. Its purpose is to ensure that plot-holders are complying with the terms of their tenancy agreement, and in particular that 50% or more of their plot is under cultivation for edible produce such as fruit, vegetables and herbs and that 100% of their plot remains reasonably tidy and not a nuisance to their neighbours.

The plot inspection process
Plot inspections are carried out by the Membership Secretary with assistance from other Committee members. Inspections are carried out each month from April through to October.  If, during an inspection, it appears that less than 50% of a plot is under cultivation (that is, it shows no visible signs of preparation or planting), or that the plot is overgrown and causing a nuisance to neighbours, then the following process will be followed:

First month: The plot holder will be sent an email (or a letter if necessary). This will

  • remind them of the cultivation standards;
  • say that the Committee expects to see progress by the following inspection; and
  • invite the plot holder to tell the Committee if they think this could be difficult for them.

Second month: If the plot shows little or no signs of improvement and the plot holder has not mentioned any problems with cultivation, they will be sent a formal Improvement Notice via email and post. This will set out what improvements need to be made within a 28-day deadline. Plot holders will again be encouraged to tell us if this will be a problem for them.

Third month: Where sufficient improvement to a plot has been made, no further action will be taken. Where no problems have been mentioned and insufficient improvement has been made, the plot holder will be sent a Non-Cultivation Notice by email and post, seeking specified improvements to their plot within 28 days.

Fourth month: Where no problems have been mentioned and insufficient improvement has been made the plot holder will be issued with an eviction notice and given 28 days to remove items from plot. Their tenancy will then be terminated.
The Committee reserves the right, in cases where plot holders are sent repeated notices in successive years, to amend these processes as they see fit.

New Plot Holders
New plot holders are not normally subject to the plot inspection process in their first year. This is because they may inherit a plot which needs a significant amount of work, and they will also be new to plot holding.
New plot holders are, however, expected to show a reasonable level of commitment to working their plot, including making sustained efforts to begin to get it under control and to cultivate. In circumstances where such efforts are not sufficiently observed, the Committee may decide to commence formal plot inspections and begin proceedings as they see fit to ensure that the plot does not suffer long term neglect.

Plot Holders Struggling to Cultivate
If at any point during this process a plot holder gives a reasonable explanation as to why they are not able to cultivate or keep their plot reasonably tidy (such as illness, bereavement, pregnancy or a new-born baby), then no further inspection activity will be undertaken until the following growing season. Plot holders will be encouraged to be considerate to their neighbours by taking steps to prevent their plot from becoming completely overgrown e.g. by arranging help from a fellow plot holder or Garden Member.
Plot holders who are struggling to cultivate enough of their plot might wish to consider taking advantage of the Plot Swap or Garden Membership schemes, or, if they are on a large plot, downsizing so they have less work to do (and also creating a new and lettable plot on the land they have given up).