An “unjustifiable” price hike has left allotment renters in Welwyn Hatfield “shocked,” while some have considered abandoning the plots as “they have no choice.” 

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council recently agreed that allotment rent should be brought in-line with other discretionary council-run services for the 2023/24 period. 

The rent for plots without water for 2022/23 per annum for 25sqm was £7.50 - but starting from April first, this will increase by 200 per cent to £22.50. 

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Welwyn Hatfield Times: Deerswood allotments holders.Deerswood allotments holders. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

Plot owners with water used to pay £12.50 - but for the 2023/24 period they will pay three times more at £37.50. 

According to residents, the council cited contractors' prices going up, water prices and admin as the reason behind the price increase - which has been dubbed "unfair" and "upsetting". 

The Welwyn Hatfield Times visited the Moneyhole and Deerswood allotments to speak to residents about their concerns with the price hike. 


Around 50 allotment holders and four councillors came to the gathering to communicate the next possible steps. Plot holders hope they can either buy more time, or fight the price hikes and come up with a solution. 

Cambell McCaig, a Moneyhole allotments renter for 25 years, said: “We are all like a big community and a family. The allotments have helped my mental health, especially through lockdown.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Heather Farr's allotments at Moneyhole.Heather Farr's allotments at Moneyhole. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

"When we were indoors for months, other allotment holders helped us buy grains and other essentials, so we had some food. We keep this allotment going and we're going to lose people. 

“The amount isn’t justifiable because we’ve only got water tanks and nothing else. We don’t even have toilets. Morally, it’s just wrong. 

“I used to pay £33 but now I’ll have to pay £93, and some people are paying £180. It’s just ridiculous how they can get to that price. 

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Deerswood plots maintained by the residents and the tank of water supplied by the council.Deerswood plots maintained by the residents and the tank of water supplied by the council. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

“We cannot let the council get away with this. When we want to know where our money is going, we never find out.” 

A number of plot holders are already considering leaving the allotments, as they cannot justify spending three times the amount they usually pay. 

Felix Katsukunya, 71, who has rented his Moneyhole plot for 20 years, said: “Because I am retired, it makes things really difficult.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Sheds and equipment bought by residents to maintain their plots at Moneyhole.Sheds and equipment bought by residents to maintain their plots at Moneyhole. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

"The only option I am now considering is to give it up because it feels like we are being pushed out of our community and it is shocking. A 200 per cent increase in unrealistic and unfair. 

“It is sad because a lot of people who come to the allotments are retired and vulnerable, so they come here to refresh themselves and better their mental health. Now where will we go?”  

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Sarah proudly showing off her tent on her Moneyhole allotment.Sarah proudly showing off her tent on her Moneyhole allotment. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

Chris and Helen Pellat from Lemsford Lane allotments said: “I've already invested too much money into it this year and bought all the seeds, tools and planted some trees, so I will consider not carrying it on next year.  

“But another pensioner on our allotment, who has owned her plots for over 50 years, is leaving the allotments as she cannot afford the price hikes."

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Plots at Moneyhole maintained by allotment holders.Plots at Moneyhole maintained by allotment holders. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

Across other Hertfordshire local authorities, prices also depend on the size of plot. 

In St Albans and North Herts, full plots are generally measured as 250 sq metres, and half plots as 125 sq metres.

In St Albans half plots are £27 and full plots cost £54 - up from £50.62 after the latest budget.

North Herts users currently pay £164 for a full plot and £82 for half.

In East Herts, a 75 sq metre plot will set back a holder £11.56, and for 280 sq metre, £42.85.

Finally, in Hertsmere allotment users pay £48 for a half plot - 126.5 sq metres - or £75 per for full plot - 253 sq metres.

Holders at Hatfield Garden Village - which is managed by Hatfield Town Council - pay at least £40 for a standard plot.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Heather water the plants the she grew with her 12-year-old grandson.Heather water the plants the she grew with her 12-year-old grandson. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

The allotment holders meeting was also joined by Conservative party Councillor Stan Tunstall, two Lib Dem councillors Michal Siewniak and Darrell Panter, and Labour councillor Larry Crofton. 

The budget was devised and voted through by Conservative councillors despite both Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors voting against it. 

Liberal Democrat Cllr Jane Quinton says: “In a cost-of-living crisis, when workers are being denied wage increases to even match inflation, the tripling of rents is adding insult to injury.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The shed maintained by Heather's 12-year-old grandson.The shed maintained by Heather's 12-year-old grandson. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

"The council should be encouraging the use of allotments which benefit healthy living, better diets, and community cohesion. 

“Many allotment holders have worked their plots for decades but are now facing heartbreak having to give up them up as unaffordable.  

“Welwyn Hatfield rents are already among the highest in Hertfordshire, but with this rise they could become the most expensive in the country.”

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Various Moneyhole plots where vegetable, fruits and flowers are grown by renters.Various Moneyhole plots where vegetable, fruits and flowers are grown by renters. (Image: Gopika Madhu) Leader of the Labour Group Cllr Lynn Chesterman added: “Many people have taken up allotments to enable them to produce the fresh fruit and vegetables that they otherwise couldn’t afford with the cost-of-living crisis.

"Others have allotments because they are stuck in the ever-growing number of flats being built in the borough. Nobody has had pay rises at this level and the only thing they can do is surrender the one thing that helps physical and mental health. 

“Both parties call on the Conservative council to reverse this rent hike and stop bullying allotment holders.” 

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Deerswood allotments maintained by renters.Deerswood allotments maintained by renters. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

A spokesperson from WHBC said: “We know how important allotments are to our residents and we realise that this is a much larger increase than allotment holders have had before.

"However, we have experienced significant increases in expenditure in the allotments budget, and those over 65 or those receiving full income support are still eligible for a 50 per cent discount.  


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“The water usage, especially last summer, has been much higher due to the drier weather and this has significantly increased our costs. Maintenance costs at allotments have also increased in line with our contractor’s costs.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Moneyhole allotment holders working on their plots.Moneyhole allotment holders working on their plots. (Image: Gopika Madhu)

"It is never an easy decision to increase fees, especially if they are larger than usual, but we need to ensure that we can continue delivering this valuable service in a sustainable way.” 

The council added that Welwyn Hatfield has not had a substantial increase in several years. 

This story has been edited since first published to clarify other Hertfordshire local authorities' costs and allotment plot sizes.