The Green Forest Gate Project also extended to cover some of the routes between schools and the Community Garden, creating a greener and cleaner environment for all local residents.
Over the course of our activities in the garden we have had many local residents who have raised concerns over the footbridge on Earlham Grove across to Forest Lane. With this in mind, we started discussions with the local authority to try and improve the look and feel of that site and to design out some of the Anti social behaviour (ASB). This was part of our commitment to extend opportunities for greening and gardening beyond the garden itself and into more public spaces.
Initially we spoke to local residents and set up a day next to the bridge to gather feedback and opinions on the area. The feedback from passers by was very similar to most residents we have spoken to, with concerns around the rear of the space with ASB, fly tipping, general rubbish and individuals ‘hanging around’. Concerns were also raised around security of nearby properties, possible cctv and lighting. At the time of the initial discussions, the council did not have any money set aside for this area and all our work was (and continues predominantly to be) on a voluntary basis.
Therefore we applied for some funding for a project working with schools and as part of this, have set aside a small amount to contribute to greening in public spaces. As the footbridge is directly between two primary schools, it seemed prudent to involve them. The council have also been persuaded (both from ongoing discussions with us and through shifts in internal policy) to ring fence some of their budget to make improvements to this area.
Based on this, we spoke to a landscape designer who has provided a suggested planting scheme and have been working closely with the councils landscape architects and sustainable travel team to come up with a plan for the site. I attach below the first draft of the proposed changes. In summary these are to: introduce in-ground planting to improve drainage and air quality, introduce additional lighting, alter the layout of the space to deter fly tipping and ASB. The main emphasis is on improving the look and feel of the space to encourage greater footfall which will in turn limit the likelihood of unwanted behaviour at the site. Whilst feedback from residents has been mainly positive around these improvements, the council are still tweaking the final plans as the rear of the space provides additional challenges, especially in terms of access and litter. One longer term solution would be to increase the width of the bridge to match the space however current budgets will not allow for this so it would seem sensible to make smaller improvements in the medium term whilst they look to secure funding and support for these bigger changes.
These projects are challenging on many levels but we are working hard to try to initiate positive change and a greener and cleaner environment for all local residents so all comments are most welcome.
This project is kindly supported by: