A Community Garden for Portswood?
9th February 2010
Thirty- two years ago a courageous community group in Paddington asked the
then Westminster council to agree to convert four acres of derelict canalside
wasteland into a community and wildlife garden. Westminster gave temporary
permission, because the site was earmarked for eventual development. It
could be used for a temporary Community Garden meanwhile, they said. The name ‘meanwhile Gardens’ stuck, except that thirty two years later, the not-so-meanwhile Gardens are still thriving, and providing an oasis of green community space in a heavily urban area.
It probably all sounds quite familiar by now to the NSBP (Northcote, Bookfield, Somerset and Portswood Roads) community Group: here we have a possible ‘meanwhile gardens’ right here in the middle of Portswood – the site might be used for development at an uncertain point in the future, but to date proposals have come and gone and the site remains derelict, unloved and undeveloped. It was the ability of the Meanwhile Gardens pioneers to visualise what such a site could look like and how it could work that made the difference in London, and that same vision is at work here in Portswood.
A google maps shot of the proposed garden site from http://www.nbspcg.org.uk/page4.html
The sterling work in putting that vision down on paper to show what can be done has been completed, but many hoops remain to jump through. The major hoop is the agreement by the City Council that there really can be such a ‘meanwhile’ use for the site: I don’t think it needs a full new survey of possible contamination to preface this agreement; there is already substantial information to go on, and the design of the garden can reflect this.
That’s the next question: yes or no? I hope the very success of London’s ‘meanwhile Gardens isn’t weighing on the mind of the Council and causing them to pause: I hope that the Portswood community wildlife Garden will celebrate its thirty-second anniversary one day: but even if it doesn’t just think of the difference the garden will have made in its life, and what a transformation it will have achieved. We need a firm ‘yes’ to that now: and then it will fly.
What do you think of this story? Email Alan