Friday, 8 October 2010

Allotments Meets Homes Under the Hammer


I was given a new role yesterday: I'm an Allotment Consultant now as my friend Steve drafted me in to go to a local property auction. A parcel of allotment land (which I've already shown you here) was up for grabs and he was interested in bidding for it. As Homes Under the Hammer is one of my favourite TV programmes, I was curious to see what happens for real.

It was held at the Corn Exchange in Devizes, a beautiful old building with the added advantage of having a bar to keep everyone well refreshed during proceedings. It was largest local auction the agents have held for 3 years, but I don’t think that was the main reason why the vast room was so crowded, as it turned out that the makers of Homes Under the Hammer were actually filming.

All the usual drama of an auction was there including someone so keen to buy they bid against themselves (auctioneer: I’d love to take your money sir, but the bid’s already with you); lots of properties withdrawn because they didn’t make their reserve price; plus one property nearly sold 3 times over because new bidders kept on popping up at the last moment to keep things going.

At last our lot came up for sale. There were many announcements before bidding started as the details in the catalogue were incorrect: the parcel of land was a different size and shape, plus the number of potential allotments revised downwards from around 40 to 32. I wonder if all this put people off as bidding was slow, finally reaching £47,000 for just over 2 acres of land. Whilst that was well over the guide price, it turned out it was below the reserve, so the lot was withdrawn.

We were surprised to find the plot was deemed to be worth twice the going rate of good agricultural land simply by putting some allotments on there. I was also amazed to find the annual rent per allotment is £185 which is more than 3 times the rate I pay for mine. Perhaps this was the tale the Homes Under Hammer team was hoping to tell as I spotted they were filming this part of the proceedings. Sadly because the story’s incomplete, we’ll never know.

5 comments:

  1. is the allotment rent higher because of the 'neighborhood'? is putting allotments on a parcel akin to having rental potential in a house? knowing that there would be filming going on would encourage me to avoid a place ;)

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  2. My PA has an allotment in Swindon (the Lottie she calls it) - we now have an excellent 'contract': she gets to take extra long lunch hours to do the watering and I get some strawberries or veg. every now and then!

    She told me her rent is £40 a year.

    I went to see it the other week - lovel community feel abou the place.

    On a related note - I reckon quite few offices near us could offer up some space for a staff allotment.

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  3. 185 quid is something of a rip-off. How many people can grow enough produce for that rent to be justified, even before taking into account the labour and material costs?

    Sheesh!

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  4. the next part of the story is that steve was phoned to ask if he'd like to make an offer! so if anyone out there is interested...

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  5. Petoskystone - no, the allotment rental is higher because it's privately owned rather than belonging to the local council. However, allotment rents vary wildly throughout the UK

    Mark - sounds a good contract. I worked for the Water Research Centre in Medmenham a few years ago. I thought they had the dream location - next to The Thames, plus on site SSSI and allotments. We even went on bird spotting walks at lunchtime!

    Tony - I agree. However, I heard an interesting talk at last year's food growing bloggers' get together where a sociologist revealed his research has shown that the economics of vegetable growing is very low down on allotmenteers priorities

    Lu - really? Did they say what the seller wanted re price? Presumably Steve said no?

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