Meanwhile Gardening is roughly defined as the temporary use of land for gardening and food growing. For example where a piece of land earmarked for development that has been temporarily suspended is leased to a community group who use the site for cultivation. The advantage is that land that would otherwise lay empty and unused can be put to good use by community groups in a way that brings benefits and opportunities for local people. The obvious disadvantage is that much hard work could go into establishing and maintaining a site, only for that work to be disrupted if the land then reverts to its original purpose.
The Development Trusts Association (DTA) is developing new lease arrangements that will make it easier for people to take control of temporarily unused or abandoned land. These are known as 'meanwhile leases', which are intended to give both community groups and landlords a better framework over temporary use of unused land.
The main aim is to support community groups who want to get access to land for purposes including community food growing schemes, community gardens or other green spaces. It could encourage those who own land that has been earmarked for development, but subsequently delayed, to lease that land on a temporary basis to community groups.
The Development Trusts Association, through its Meanwhile Project, has now been commissioned by the Government to prepare standardised 'leases' so that organisations can access unused land, while giving the landlord and tenants legal assurances. This is part of the Government’s wider ‘Grow your Own’ campaign which aims to promote seasonal eating and help local people, schools and communities grow their own food.
The idea has been inspired by a similar initiative for empty shops, which have enabled local residents and organisations to use vacant properties on a temporary basis.
"The new Licence for Land builds on the experience of the recently developed Meanwhile Lease for Shops. It is yet another exciting step towards ensuring that communities make the best possible use of assets," said Jess Steele, Head of Consultancy at the DTA and the lead on the Meanwhile Project. "An empty asset is social and economic value lost and using them ‘in the meanwhile’ for the benefit of the wider community is crucial to ensuring that we reduce the negative impacts of the recession."
Bradford Urban Garden
Development Trusts Association - Meanwhile Project
Tel: 0845 458 8336