Home Meanwhile Gardening

Meanwhile Leases

meanwhilepicMeanwhile 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.


Emerging Trend
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."


Case Study
Bradford Urban Garden

icon Bradford Urban Garden Case Study

Other Examples

Meanwhile Gardens, London

Growing PlacE16, Canning Town, London


Further information
Development Trusts Association - Meanwhile Project
Tel: 0845 458 8336
This project aims to provide financial support and business planning advice for organisations involved in local meanwhile projects; and an awareness raising campaign to highlight the potential for meanwhile use. The Meanwhile Project is keen to hear of examples of obstacles community groups have encountered regarding meanwhile use of land/sites. Email Emily at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. Reg. Charity No. 294494
Registered in England No: 2011023 Registered Office: The GreenHouse, Hereford Street, Bristol BS3 4NA