We care for, and manage, St Ann’s Allotments, one of the largest inner city allotment sites in the world.
It’s also one of the oldest and largest collections of Victorian detached town gardens in the UK – with 670 allotment gardens spread over 75 acres, all just 1.5km away from Nottingham city centre in the heart of St Ann’s.
The allotments are Grade 2* listed and a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. They’re home to a range of 19th century summerhouses, sheds, glasshouses and buildings, as well as rare wildlife, including birds, moths, butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies.
History and heritage
The allotment site was established in the 1830s and includes 670 allotment gardens on three connecting sites – Hungerhill Gardens, Stonepit Coppice and Gorsey Close.
The site has been extensively renovated over the last 10 years, thanks to a £4.5 million restoration project delivered by us in partnership with STAA – funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, East Midlands Development Agency, European Regional Development Fund and Nottingham City Council.
The project ran from 2007-2017, after a 20-year campaign to save the allotments, which were left largely empty and neglected throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The aim was to conserve and restore the site, improve the gardens as a unique form of social and community heritage and secure their future.
Facilities and features
Today, St Ann’s Allotments are thriving – with a growing waiting list for plots and an exciting range of facilities including a Visitors’ Centre, Community Orchard, display and museum plots and a heritage plant nursery – to propagate and protect the site’s rare historical plants, including 120 species of apple tree and 50 varieties of pear.
In addition, the restoration project saw paths and avenues restored; perimeter fencing, entrance gates and signage improved; allotment plots brought back into use; hedges and trees maintained; and terraces and retaining walls repaired. Plus, a borehole was sunk to provide water; heritage buildings were restored; and site interpretation was added to bring the allotment’s unique history and heritage to life.
Nature and wildlife
The restoration project included creating conversation areas around the site, providing a ‘green reservoir’ for nature in the heart of urban St Ann’s. Around 60 allotment plots were designated to remain uncultivated and have been developed to provide an abundance of shelter, food and nesting opportunities for wildlife. The wildlife plots now comprise a variety of habitats including gardens, woodland (including hazel, oak and willow coppices), scrub, ponds and wildflower meadows.
Over 59 types of bird have been spotted at the site, including species on red and amber lists of high conservation concern in the UK, as well as 104 species of moth, 18 butterfly species, 9 types of damselfly and dragonfly and 222 different plant species (excluding trees and shrubs).
The management of the designated wildlife areas and hedge planting is sympathetic to the continued support of the six key species identified at the start of the restoration project, including bullfinch, song thrush, smooth newt, midland hawthorn, lady fern and currant clearwing moth, which have made a comeback at the allotments after not being seen in Nottinghamshire for 100 years.