It’s been almost exactly a year since we first stood in the dark in Thorogood Gardens carpark, meeting with residents (and drinking their tea) to talk to them about their ideas for a rather unloved little corner of Maryland.
Since then the improvements have included: replacing and improving the lighting, repairs being undertaken on the roof of the block, the road has been resufaced, a wild area has been made into a communal garden, and old broken bollards have been replaced. Seyi’s idea was to use money that was already available for separate projects, which might happen in separate places in Forest Gate North, and to bring them together in one place to make a real and noticeable impact. Turns out that to say this was a brainwave is something of an understatement….
Hochtief, who are refurbishing Maryland station as part of the Crossrail work, kindly funded additional planting and improvements, which the Forest Gate Community Garden organised and co-ordinated. Council officers held a ‘street connections’ event where residents hung up hanging baskets, and Hochtief were on hand to replace some fence panels that face onto the square.
In addition, in the summer residents got together with the help of a Let’s Get the Party Started grant, and held a barbeque in their new green space, and are now planning a Christmas event, and regular residents’ group meetings. Throughout the process, we’ve kept in touch with residents, including door knocking, letters, and producing a ‘Thorogood Gardens community update’ leaflet, letting them know about what we’ve done, what’s possible (and what’s not) and getting their ideas.
On Friday morning we had a quick meeting on site (picture above) to agree the last piece of work here. This last step is to create some ‘play markings’ on what is currently a large tarmac’d area. We want to encourage children to get out and play on an area that is currently not really used, and Hochtief are kindly funding the painting of some markings. We hope that these will include lines for a race track, hop scotch, and a series of little roads for children on bikes, scooters, roller skates or just on foot to run along and follow. Different markings that encourage play and movement whilst not encouraging ball games which might damage nearby windscreens and windows.
This is what the tarmac currently looks like…
We hope that encouraging children to get out and play will help to enliven the area, will help keep children active, encourage residents to use the new garden, and further encourage links between neighbours. The work should be done soon, and we’ll report back here on the results. Fingers crossed.