Allotment rules

Southampton allotments shed

Rules and guidance when renting an allotment in Southampton

Everything you need to know when renting an allotment from Southampton City Council (SCC).

The Allotment Acts 1908 – 1950 and your Tenancy Agreement give the terms and conditions of your allotment tenancy. The sites are owned by SCC and as such they require certain standards of behaviour, in line with the Tenancy Agreement and the Allotments Act, to ensure that their property is maintained correctly, good practice is followed and to ensure that neighbours and other plot holders are not inconvenienced.

Under section (xx) of your tenancy agreement the council has the ability to enforce additional rules which fall outside of the agreement itself. These rules have been developed over the years in consultation with allotment holders and try to strike a balance between allowing people freedom to work their plot whilst ensuring they do not infringe on other allotment holders.

The following is a list of rules which SCC expect its allotment holders to comply with. Reports of non-compliance will be investigated and assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If you break any of the following eight rules it will lead to immediate termination of your agreement.

Updated November 2023

Rule Number Rule Action Taken
T1 You MUST pay your allotment rent within 30 days of date of invoice. If you are struggling to pay your rent, please contact the allotment officer prior to or within 30 days of date of invoice. Immediate termination of agreement
T2 You are not allowed to remove anything from a vacant plot, including but not limited to sheds, greenhouses, plants, crops, unless given permission by Allotment Officer. The council will not accept permission verbal or written from the previous plot holder. Immediate termination of agreement, possible prosecution

You must not use any abusive or threatening behaviour on site or social media, be it physical or verbal. This includes any discriminatory comments based on race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion or any other protected characteristics.

SCC does not run any allotment related social media sites and has no access to or control over private groups run by plot holders.

Termination of agreement following a full investigation
T4 You must not deposit any materials, arisings or rubbish from your allotment plot or any other source anywhere else on the allotment site. This includes onto vacant plots, footpaths, roads and ditches. Immediate termination of agreement, possible prosecution
T5 You must not take any one else’s produce or property from their plot without their permission. This constitutes theft and incidents may be reported to the police. Immediate termination of agreement, possible prosecution
T6 You are not permitted to carry or use a firearm at any time on site, without prior written permission from Southampton City Council. Immediate termination of agreement, possible prosecution
T7 The use of snares is strictly forbidden for catching wildlife using the site. Immediate termination of agreement, possible prosecution
T8 You are not allowed to give your key or code to other people unless they are registered as a helper on your plot. Immediate termination of agreement

The following rules will usually result in a warning if they are broken.

Where two warnings have been issued a third incident of non-compliance may lead to termination of the agreement.

Each case will be investigated on its merits; the types of evidence we look at include (but are not restricted to) written evidence submitted, witness statements, complaints received, physical evidence on site, police statements, recorded interviews, photographs etc. Any complaints of witness statements can only be accepted in writing signed by the plot holder making the allegations.

We cannot accept third party or anonymous statements or allegations. If you have any worries or concerns over other people's actions or conduct then please do call us or come in for a chat.

Although all of the below carry a warning there may be cases where they are extreme enough for us to go straight to an immediate termination. You will be kept informed of any decision we make and the reasons for it.

Rule Number Rule Action Taken

You must cultivate at least 60% of your plot (by this we mean preparing the ground, planting, growing and harvesting crops/flowers) and the remainder must be cut down and free from weeds setting seed. The area must look maintained.

From the start of your tenancy agreement you have a two-month period in which enforcement for non-cultivation is not applicable. At least 25%of the plot should be cultivated within three months and 50% cultivated within six months.

For further guidance on cultivation please see cultivation guidance below.

One warning only (letter of non-cultivation).

If your plot is not brought up to an acceptable condition within the timeframe set out in the warning, we will serve a repossession for which there is no appeal.

If your plot falls into non-cultivation a second time within six months of the original warning letter no further warning will be issued and your plot will be repossessed.

We will only issue three warnings in a three-year period before repossessing the plot.

W2 You must not cause a nuisance to other plot holders or neighbouring properties - nuisance could include but is not limited to: bad or racist language, getting drunk, playing loud music, inconsiderate bonfires or inappropriate posts on social media. Warning
W3 You must erect a clearly visible number on your plot. Warning
W4 You and any helpers must always ensure you lock the gates when entering and leaving the site. Combination locks must be scrambled. One warning only for locking gates and scrambling code locks – Termination of agreement for second offence. 
W5 Please use water sparingly. You can use a handheld hosepipe to water your crops or fill up a water butt. Please note that at certain times there may be restrictions.
You may ask permission of the Allotment Officer to use an irrigation/sprinkler system to water crops. This is subject to an additional annual fee of £25 to be invoiced with your rent.
All hoses and sprinklers etc must be turned off before leaving your plot.
You must ensure all hoses, sprinklers and connections are in good condition and not leaking.

If plot holders are found to be using a sprinkler/irrigation system and do not have permission, they will be invoiced for £45 (£25 + £20 fine).
Failure to pay will result in termination of agreement.
Leaving tap on when not on your plot will result in a warning for first offence, termination of agreement for second offence.

You must get permission from the Allotment Officer if you wish to erect new or replacement sheds/structures, greenhouses or polytunnels.

The maximum permittable shed size is 6ft x 8ft x 6ft 6"

Warning – you will be required to put in a retrospective application.

If your structure causes concern in terms of size, location or another reason you may be asked to move or remove the structure at your own cost or you may be charged for removal by the council.


No new applications to keep livestock are currently allowed.
Existing plot holders with livestock agreements prior to 1 November 2018, will be allowed to remain and restock subject to complying with the terms and conditions that you have already agreed.

The maximum number of chickens/ducks allowed is 10. Cockerels are not allowed.

In cases of neglect to chickens or ducks, one warning only. For second offence or serious cases, immediate confiscation of livestock and permanent ban on keeping livestock. One warning for more than 10 chickens and subsequent livestock ban if ignored.

Plot holders with livestock in breach of this rule will be asked to remove livestock and structures at their own expense within  given time frame. Failure to comply will result in termination of your agreement.

W8 You can bring your dog on site as long as it's kept strictly under control at all times and only kept on your plot. Please make sure that you clear up any mess left by your dog and dispose of it off site. All sites have Dog Control orders making it illegal to leave dog fouling or to take your dog off of a lead on allotment sites, and these will be enforced if strict control of dogs is not adhered to. Warning
W9 You are not allowed to go onto other plots unless you have been given permission to do so by the plot holder or Allotment Officer. If you have children onsite they should always be supervised and should not be allowed to stray onto other plots. Warning
W10 You are not allowed to sublet your plot. By subletting we mean if a plot is wholly being worked by someone different than the named plot holder. The named plot holder must be present on site at least 50% of the time. One warning only - Termination of agreement for second offence
W11 You must not exceed the five mile speed limit One warning only – Termination of agreement for second offence.

You are not permitted to plant any trees other than fruit trees on your plot. Please see cultivation guidelines for information about fruit trees.

You must not allow any self-seed tree that does not produce edible fruits for human consumption to grow on your plot.

Warning – Asked to remove any trees at own cost or charged for removal by the council.
W13 You are not allowed to use your plot for any trade or business. One warning only – Termination of agreement for second offence.
W14 You are not allowed to use carpets on allotment plots. Warning - Asked to remove carpets at own cost or charged for removal by the council
W15 You are not allowed to bring in or use tyres on site. Warning – Asked to remove tyres at own cost or charged for removal by the council

You must not bring in items to burn or store rubbish on site.

The storage of goods or materials not directly connected to the cultivation of the allotment garden plot is not permitted. Any materials brought onto site for use on the allotment must be used within three months of their arrival on site.

Warning - Asked to remove rubbish or materials at own cost or charged for its removal by the council
W17 You are not allowed to dig up or obstruct paths between plots. Warning - Asked to reinstate the path at own cost or charged for the reinstatement by the council
W18 Moved to T8  
W19 Using concrete on plots for bases, securing posts etc. will be discouraged but in some cases may be considered necessary. Therefore prior approval must be sought for using concrete on plots. If permission is not requested and granted a warning will be issued. Warning – asked to remove the base/concrete at your own cost or charged for removal by the council

Bonfires are banned on Coxford Road Allotments all year round.

All other sites bonfires are banned from 1 May to 1 September each year. In the permitted months bonfires must not cause a nuisance and you must not leave fires unattended. Only burn dry material on still days or when light winds are blowing away from residential properties, preferably in an incinerator to contain the fire.


The tenancy agreement can only be held in one person's name. However you can have up to four helpers per plot. The helper's details must be registered with the allotment officer. The person/s helping must be a Southampton resident or live within a one-mile radius of the city boundary.

Helpers are co-responsible for the condition of the plot.

As the named tenant you must be present onsite at least 50% of the time your helpers are onsite. You are responsible for the actions of your helpers; please ensure they are familiar with these rules.

If a person is found on your plot who is not a named helper, your plot may be repossessed.
One warning only - termination of agreement for second offence.

W22 Play equipment is NOT allowed on plots. This includes but is not limited to paddling pools, trampolines, slides, swings, climbing frames, Wendy houses and sand pits.

Warning - asked to remove play equipment.

Termination of agreement if not removed.

W23 Children are not allowed to cycle around the allotment sites. Bikes can be ridden to and from the plot only. Warning
W24 All bird feeders must be positioned in the centre of your plot. Warning

As a rule you must cultivate at least 60% of your plot at any one time. The following guidance list outlines expectations around maintenance and cultivation.

Number Cultivation guidance

If, for whatever reason, you are temporarily unable to work your plot sufficiently to meet/maintain the cultivation standards set out in W1, please inform the Allotment Officer at the earliest opportunity. Do not wait for a warning letter to be issued as we cannot retrospectively consider any mitigating circumstances.


Tenants that have long-term extenuating circumstances (i.e. circumstances that are likely to continue beyond one full growing year) and have not or will not nominate a co-worker, partner or spouse to help with maintaining the plot in accordance to the tenancy conditions which include the rules, the Council will offer the following options:

  1. That if the allotment garden is greater than eight rods, the plot is split, and the tenant takes on one half
  2. The Tenant relinquishes the allotment garden plot. When the tenant's health circumstances have improved so far as the tenant is able to cultivate and maintain an allotment plot in accordance with the tenancy conditions and the rules; the council will offer the tenant the next available plot, on that allotment site

If the tenant fails to agree to either option above, then the council reserves the right to terminate the tenancy.


It is not permitted for tenants with extenuating circumstances to leave their plot overgrown with weeds that are likely to cause nuisance to neighbouring tenants. Any such plot will be considered in breach of tenancy and subject to the enforcement process.


Allotment gardens must by definition be wholly or at least mainly cultivated for the recreational use for the production of vegetables, herbs, fruit and flower crops.


Cultivation requires the tenant to regularly dig or mulch, prune and weed.


You can have a small lawn area as long as it's regularly mown, or a defined wildflower/wildlife area but this must be no more than 20% of your plot and is not classed as cultivated for the purpose of W1.


Glass houses, poly-tunnels and fruit cages if cultivated & maintained are included within the cultivated area, as are compost bins, water butts and ornamental flower crops.


Fruit bushes/fruit trees must be compact and of a small growing variety.

To be classed as cultivated you must maintain or grow ground level crops in the area under/around them.

Fruit trees either planted or self-seeded should take up no more than 20% of your plot. They must be of a dwarf root stock to make sure they're manageable and you must not allow them to grow over 2.5 metres tall.


You can build a pond; however, it should not be more than 0.5metres (50cm) deep and should not exceed a maximum surface area of 1.5 square metres. It must be built in a way that's not dangerous to people or animals. For advice contact the Allotment Officer.


You must maintain the paths around your plot and not allow any obstruction or encroachment from your plot by plants, structures or tools.


You are actively encouraged to compost green waste on your plot and one way of doing this would be to have a compost bin, however, please do not let this encroach onto any paths.


An area that is cleared annually of weeds yet remains uncropped or unplanted during any one year will be considered as non-cultivated.


Covering some of your plot with weed matting or similar is acceptable during November to February but will not count towards your 60% cultivation at any other time of the year.


You are required to keep maintaining your plot during November to February. In autumn and early spring this may be keeping grass growth and weeds in check, it may involve digging over and preparing your plot. This is also a good time to check any infrastructure on your plot.


It is a criminal offence to knowingly plant or otherwise cause to grow any plant which is classed as an ‘Invasive species’, as listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Variation of Schedule 9) (England and Wales) Order 2010 (the Order) as amended. Any person found guilty of such an offence is liable for a fine not exceeding £5,000 or imprisonment.


Invasive plants such as bamboo, all types of willow and fast-growing conifers (including Christmas trees) should not be planted as these can be invasive. If invasive plants are not removed by the tenant, then the tenancy may be terminated, and plants removed at the tenant’s cost.


The council encourages all tenants to restrict their use of chemicals on allotments but if chemicals are used, they should not stray or seep on to neighbouring plots or paths. Wherever possible, tenants should advise their neighbours before chemical controls are used.


The council does not provide any allotment plot maintenance services such as weed clearance, maintenance, cultivation, removal of structural items, tree removal, hedge cutting or removal, fence repairs or installation, or any other tasks which are the responsibility of the tenant.

Allotments are often busy places with many allotment holders all sharing the site and working in close proximity with each other. People differ in the way they manage and maintain their allotment plots and this may not be the same as the way you would do it yourself. We therefore ask that all plot holders have respect for their neighbouring plot holders and tolerate the different approaches to allotment holding that they will see on site. The following guidance is set out to help make the allotments a better place for everyone and help to keep it in good order, for future users.

Number Guidance

Always inform the Allotment Officer if you change address or contact details.

Any correspondence sent to the postal or email address we have on file for you will be considered as delivered. Keeping us informed of any changes is essential to ensure continued access and enjoyment of your plot and that any problems are addressed in a timely manner.


If you vacate your plot or you are evicted all belongings must be removed by the given date. If you are unable to clear and vacate the plot within the time frame given you must inform us in writing within 7 days of the date of the notice to quit. The council have the right to charge £30 per week or part week storage for any additional time required to remove belongings from site.

Where no request for additional time is received any items not removed by the given date will be disposed of or sold as appropriate. The Council shall be entitled, on the expiry of the given date, to recover costs in respect of removing and disposing or selling any items left on the plot. Any revenue raised from the sale of goods will be returned to the tenant less any costs incurred in the storage, removal and disposing or selling, rent arrears and any cost resulting from clause xxviii of the tenancy agreement.


If you vacate your plot during the rent year, there is no notice period. However, plot holders vacating at the end of the rent year (31st October) must give notice by 1st October otherwise their plot deposit will not be refunded for insufficient notice.


Report damaged fences to the site rep or the Allotment Officer.


Keep an eye out for anybody you don’t know on site and don’t be afraid to ask them politely ‘are you looking for a particular plot, I may be able to help you locate it’ or ‘are you the new tenant of this plot’.


You are not allowed to block communal pathways. This includes with vehicles, with the exception of loading and unloading which must be carried out in good time and considerately.


Please only use noisy machinery such as petrol strimmers etc during the following times:

  • Monday to Friday - 9am-7pm
  • Saturday and Sunday - 10am-7pm

In cases of theft or vandalism this should be reported by plot holders to the Police on 101. Please obtain a crime reference number in case of any further incidents.


Site Reps are representatives of the council and must be treated with respect


You are allowed to have BBQs and social gatherings on your plot, but this must be limited to plot holders and helpers only and consideration for fellow plot holders and neighbours must be taken at all times.


We do allow bees on some sites, but not usually on people’s plots. Please enquire if you wish to keep bees and we will see if there is anywhere suitable on your site. If we get complaints, we will ask for them to be removed again.


Rent discounts apply to plot holders over 60 and SmartCities card holders with the Get Active subscription. SmartCities card holders must have a valid SmartCities card with the Get Active subscription as of the 1st November to be entitled to a discount. Contact SmartCities for advice on what qualifies for the Get Active subscription..


Plot holders must not inform others that they are able to take on their plot when given up. All plots will be offered in strict waiting list order.


There is not a reservation list for individual plots. Any specific preferences will be considered at the discretion of the allotment officer.


Plot holders currently on the waiting list and existing plot holders are currently restricted to a maximum of 10 rods. If you are currently renting a smaller plot, which you wish to keep, but you would like an additional plot, you must re-join the waiting list requesting an additional small plot. Once you get to the top of the waiting list you can take on a second small plot providing your total rent area does not exceed 10 rods.

Failure on the part of the council to enforce any of the rules above cannot be seen as a waiver of that rule and does not in any way remove the council’s ability to enforce the rule again in the future.