Community Gardens forgotten again in new Planning and Development BillPosted on: 22/11/2023
Community Gardens Ireland was disappointed to discover that community gardens have again been left out of the new Planning and Development Bill 2023 which was published by the Government this week.
The role of Local Authorities in the reserving of land for allotments is outlined under current legislation, the Planning and Development Act 2010. Community Gardens Ireland were hopeful that Community Gardens and the role that Local Authorities can play in the provision and promotion of these spaces would also be included in the new Planning and Development Bill 2023 which has been in development for the last number of years.
However, earlier this year upon the publication of a previous draft of the Planning and Development Bill 2023 it was discovered that not only had community gardens failed to be mentioned again, all mention of allotments had been completely deleted from the draft bill.
This revelation was met with much dissatisfaction and anger from community growers and allotment owners across the country. In February 2023 Community Gardens Ireland launched a campaign calling for both the return of all mention of allotments and the inclusion of community gardens into the Planning and Development Bill and in particular for legislation regarding the reserving of land for community growing spaces.
The prospect of less protection for community growing spaces and a threat to communities being able to grow their own food galvanised community growers across Ireland and TDs were inundated with emails calling for the return of all wording regarding allotments and stronger legislation to protect community growing spaces and community gardens.
This campaign led to the Coalition Government quickly confirming that the deletion of this wording was an error and that it would be rectified in the final wording of the Bill.
In September 2023, following representations made by Community Gardens Ireland, the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage Report on Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the Draft Planning and Development Bill included recommendations for both allotments and community gardens.
Dónal McCormack, Chairperson of Community Gardens Ireland said: “While it is encouraging to see the mention of allotments back in the new Bill again, it is imperative that community gardens are planned for in this legislation.
Community Gardens are proven to provide benefits for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, along with and helping with educational, environmental, biodiversity and cultural gains.
Under the new wording of the bill, local authorities have no role to play in the planning for community gardens in Ireland, which we feel is a big mistake. This bill will be used for decades by local authorities to make planning decisions which impact communities, so it needs to reflect the needs and wishes of communities.”
Mr McCormack added: “Ireland provides one of the lowest numbers of community gardens and allotments per capita in Europe, along with there being fewer community gardens and allotments than 100 years ago.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have included urban agriculture initiatives such as community gardens and allotments as climate mitigation and adaptation measures. The final report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss included a recommendation for the State to ensure the expansion of allotments and community gardens through local authority initiatives.
These community growing spaces provide so many benefits and need to be protected and planned for.”
Community Gardens Ireland
Chairperson: Dónal McCormack (0862371290)
Community Gardens Ireland is a voluntary, independent, inclusive organisation that works with all agencies and groups that promote environmental awareness and support community gardening and food growing in all parts of the island of Ireland.
In recent years Community Gardens Ireland have been heavily advocating for an improvement in legislation and policies for allotments and community gardens. In 2021 and 2022, Community Gardens Ireland presented to Oireachtas Committees, including in March 2022 where we called for increased legislation to protect, support and plan for allotments and community gardens in Ireland.
The 2020 Programme for Government includes a commitment to work with local authorities and local communities to develop community gardens, allotments and urban orchards.