For those who live in flats without gardens, allotments can be a saviour during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing them to get outside, grow fruit and veg, and enjoy the sunshine.

But the popularity of allotments in Reading means waiting times to get one can be very lengthy.

One gardening enthusiast in Reading has been waiting for an allotment for more than 12 years.

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There are currently 20 allotment sites spread throughout the borough. Average waiting times for plots range from nine months to 12.5 years.

The average wait time reflects the amount of time the individual at the top of the waiting list has currently been waiting.

One person has been waiting for a plot at Ardler Road for approximately 12 years and six months, with 84 other people on the list behind them.

A plot costs between £0.65 and £7.60 per 25sqm each year, depending on the category and concessions.

Not curently top of the agenda

Jason Brock, leader of Reading Borough Council (RBC) said the council had previously been considering whether allotments are in the right places to meet demand but this is not currently “at the top of the agenda”.

He said: “If people are saying they only want an allotment in one particular location but the waiting list is very long, why not look in another place in the town where the waiting list is shorter.”

Councillor Brock also highlighted the high number of “very good quality” parks in the town and community allotments, which are currently closed across the town during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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He said: “While allotments may be a getaway to get out and be active for some people, for others parks are far more important.

“But it is something I am happy to look at. It is probably understanding whether there is a genuine long-term demand rather than an immediate spike because of the current crisis.”

Quickest way to get a plot in Reading?

Waterloo Meadows, Lower Southcote and Bulmershe have the shortest waiting times in Reading, with the most recent person on the list waiting for nine months at each of these allotments.

While Ardler Road currently has the longest waiting time, another thing to avoid if you want to get a plot without a long wait is allotments with large numbers of people on the waiting list.

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The allotment with the longest waiting list is Caversham Court with 129 people seeking a plot – this location also has a lengthy 9.5 year average wait.

The shortest waiting list is Goddard’s Farm with 41 people raring to get gardening, and this allotment has a comparatively short average waiting time of 1.5 years.

How can I use my allotment safely during the pandemic?

Allotments currently remain open in Reading but the council has reduced maintenance since 26 March and will only carry out emergency repairs.

For those who already rent allotments, the National Allotment Society (NAS) has issued advice based on the government’s guidelines during the lockdown.

The NAS says it is reasonable to spend an hour or two tending to the plot before returning home as your daily exercise and suggests people visit allotments alone.

Here are five things to do and another five to avoid:


  • Use hand sanitiser before entering and after leaving the site
  • Take a flask of hot water, soap and paper towels to the plot with you (cold water will work too)
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds before and after touching the lock – dry with a paper towel
  • Stay 2-3 metres apart if you visit with someone from your household
  • If you take your children to the plot, ensure that they stay within its confines

Do not:

  • Attend the plot if you have coronavirus symptoms or a family member is self-isolating
  • Gather with others for a chat even if you are two metres apart
  • Touch your face after using anything that has been touched by other people – use an elbow to work the push taps
  • Share tools
  • Wash your hands in water troughs