7 December 2023

St Albans Council could be clearing the way for more people to grow food and flowers on disused scraps of land around the district, following a proposal by Green councillors.

Councillor Juliet Voisey of St Peter's ward introduced the proposal to a Full Council meeting on 6 December. It was debated and then approved unanimously.

The proposal means that the Council will look at identifying suitable patches of land for community cultivation. It will also consider if community food and flower beds could be supported on sites awaiting development.

Councillor Voisey said, "The Right To Grow Scheme from Incredible Edible is an opportunity for us to build on the community food growing and wildlife garden spaces that residents have already created. It will enable residents to access land close to them to grow their own food. And it will support residents who want to transform disused land on their doorstep."

St Albans Council’s climate strategy lists nature and sustainable food as one of the key areas of focus. Greens argue that such initiatives also promote wellbeing and nurture communities.

Councillor Voisey has already commissioned a survey of the Grow Sopwell community which showed over 80% strongly agree that they feel healthier and happier having access to a community garden area.

The local group Wilderhood Watch also reports a 25% increase in street requests for creating pollinator highways.

Residents near Keyfield Terrace report that their mood lifts when they walk past the flower bed that has been transformed by a resident. 

Councillor Voisey continued: "Residents are taking it upon themselves to grow on land as they are frustrated with progress from the council – this scheme will allow a way forward. I am working with the national team at Incredible Edible to understand the finer details and report back to officers. There are obstacles but we should be proactive in working to achieve more sites."

Councillor Voisey's motion also called on local MPs to support similar initiatives going through Parliament. 

Hull City Council recently became the first to adopt the 'right to grow', so St Albans is in the vanguard of this new community movement.