Homebuyers want a des res with garden to grow their own veg
Space to grow vegetables has become an essential requirement for a growing number of homebuyers, estate agents claim.
The popularity of cooking programmes combined with the rising price of food is thought to be behind a rise in the number of potential buyers who specify a plot of land to grow produce.
And it is not the reserve of country piles which come with plenty of acres to play around with. John Waldron, area director of Connells, said the Exeter branch had encountered a growing number of requests for land in all sizes of property, including flats.
He said: "It doesn't matter whether someone comes to us looking for a small flat or a larger home, customers are now asking for the space to be able to do some cultivation.
"Many see vegetable growing as a very good supplement to the family income and our clients are now adding allotment space to their criteria for a new property."
Throughout the Westcountry, interest in allotments has rocketed in the past few years. In Exeter alone, there are now 1,400 plots over 26 sites, and a waiting list of between two and ten years for a council allotment, depending on the location.
Richard Copus, Devon spokesman for the National Association of Estate Agents, backed up the claim.
He said: "People are certainly using their gardens more than they used to, and I think that's helped by the popularity of cookery programmes which encourage people to grow their own produce."
Despite the recession, Mr Copus said houses with a decent garden remained popular. "People are moving house less than they used to. Once it was every seven years and now it's roughly every 14, so people are looking for homes with a garden they can make use of for a long time."
Alan Covill, of the South West branch of the National Society of Allotments, has helped set up more than 50 new sites across the region in the past five years.
Mr Covill is also working with councils on encouraging developers to include a site to grow vegetables within any new home sites.
He said councils now had the power to insist on a new allotment, or a donation to upgrade an existing site, in the same way they can negotiate road improvements or play areas. But he said many developers were proving willing to agree to allotments on a voluntary basis.
Mr Covill, who has worked with Taunton Deane Council to develop its allotment strategy, said: "It's very much in everyone's interests to put a single site into a new building development which could accommodate several hundred people, and so far the developers seem very willing to do that. But I haven't come across any evidence to say that we're returning to the days when each individual home has it's own vegetable patch."