A big hike in rents looks set to hit allotment holders in 2013.

Leeds City Council is proposing to increase charges at some of the 97 sites across the city to cover the current £130,000-a-year subsidy it provides.

Specifics won’t be known until next February but some critics are already claiming they could see fees jump from £37 a year for a basic plot to nearly £160 – and so “price people off” of allotments.

Plots managed by parish or town councils, like almost all of those in Otley, won’t be affected but Leeds & District Gardeners Federation is keeping a wary eye on developments.

Publicity officer and Rawdon Parish Councillor Phil Gomersall said: “If this ends up only affecting those plots the council runs directly then I can understand that.

“But all our members are self-managed sites which are cost neutral to the council, so we would definitely be opposed to any rises for those.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Leeds, Councillor Stewart Golton, condemned what he predicted would be a “massive” increase. He said: “The council has 97 sites and already benefits from allotment holders volunteering to run the majority of those, collecting rents and maintaining them, saving the city a significant sum.

“The council is in danger of losing this goodwill by taking plotholders, and their wallets, for granted.”

A council spokeswoman insisted only sites directly managed by the authority would be hit with the higher charges, should they be approved, as budget plans are currently open to public consultation.

“We have had to save £145 million over the past two years and are now facing £51.3 million of cuts over the coming year.

“It’s too early to say what level of increase in allotment fees is likely until the decision is taken in February.”

Otley Town Council’s asset management committee chairman Councillor Nigel Gill (Lab, Manor), meanwhile, said moves were afoot to provide more allotments in Otley.

He said: “There is a possibility of a site adjacent to the Station Top plots, which would help with our extensive waiting list.”