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Woodgrange Rd, in north Forest Gate, is the main shopping centre for a mixed residential area with high levels of economic/social deprivation and housing insecurity, and the most diverse population in London. We have many betting shops and want to support the small independent traders and weekly market that has recently arrived by converting derelict land next to the high street into an open access community garden.
In 2012 a development was proposed which would have destroyed Woodgrange Rd. A local opposition campaign had overwhelming community support and it was rejected. Resulting surveys identified that residents wanted accessible green space and the Forest Gate Community Garden group was born.
We set up a CIC, have > 150 members and have a number of grass root initiatives to ‘green’ the high street including garden maintenance at a local church and a ‘pop-up’ garden. Our 5-year lease with LBN is at the final stages of agreement and we have submitted a planning application.
What we'll deliver:
Why it's a great idea:
The Garden will improve the overall look of the High Street, converting derelict land into a vibrant wildlife garden. The site is currently used for fly tipping and street drinking and working with local police we have created garden designs that will be safer for local residents. This will promote local pride and ownership in our High Street.
The Garden will increase visitor numbers to the High Street and support businesses by providing an outdoor venue for community activities including arts events, workshops and educational activities. The garden will be accessible to those with disabilities and will integrate communities through diverse activities. The project is timely, complementing infrastructure improvements at the Forest Gate Crossrail station, including increased improved pedestrian and cycle access.
The Garden will provide an opportunity for people to engage in the community through volunteering, enjoying the garden, and learning about wildlife and gardening.
Steps to get it done:
The Garden will create a wildlife area, a safe play area for children, an outdoor classroom, and a community hub. We aim to increase users each month and to hold 3 community events, 2 education workshops and a community celebration attracting people from all diverse local groups.
Our Steering Group has experience in garden design, community art projects, project management and event organisation, and our volunteers have skills to help with site clearance, maintenance, planting and events. We have already secured funds for pop up events, insurance and publicity, and have the support of our local authority and councillors. We have secured resources in kind but infrastructure, equipment and policy development are still needed. We need £5450 to get the project started.
In case our 5 year lease is not renewed we are exploring further medium-term opportunities e.g. with The Red House, a community centre with great garden potential. We are also ensuring that much of our garden is portable.
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