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Phase 1 of Mayor’s Greening Fund helps local groups improve 33 parks and open spaces

Last year, Lewisham Council launched phase 1 of the Greening Fund – a project to support the work of local community groups in protecting and enhancing the borough’s green spaces.

With so many of us seeking solace in parks and green spaces over the past year, improvements made through the Mayor’s Greening Fund will have been all the more welcome.

The Greening Fund put community leadership at the heart of the project, enabling and empowering users of parks, open spaces, local nature reserves and allotments to decide what improvements they wanted locally. Lewisham’s Greenscene team provided a ‘shopping list’ of infrastructure with their indicative costs which allowed community groups to choose what new equipment they wanted and made submitting applications really simple.

More than £360,000 was allocated through the fund in its first phase - 2019/20 - bringing improvements to 33 sites, ranging from drinking water fountains and wheelchair-friendly picnic benches, to outdoor gym equipment and bird boxes.

Ann Slater, Chair of the Lewisham Parks and Open Spaces Forum, said: ““The original funding application was straightforward and took a lot of hassle out of the task as Friends’ groups didn’t need to individually research costs and suppliers. Funding was able to be shared around the borough to benefit a wide range of green spaces, and smaller groups that were not used to - or didn’t have the capacity for - writing funding bids were able to get resources they wanted.

“We had opportunities to discuss details after the funding had been agreed so that we felt the process really belonged to the park users.”

In total, Phase 1 of the Mayor’s Greening Fund has provided:

  • 144 litter and dog waste bins
  • 44 park benches or seats
  • 23 disabled user-friendly picnic tables
  • 16 biodiversity or sustainability project enhancements
  • 13 outdoor gym enhancements
  • two water-saving storage tanks
  • 64 bird or bat nest boxes
  • 12 trees
  • 14 disabled user-friendly raised bed planters
  • three entrance enhancements
  • 10 interpretative signs (these are set in display cabinets and include information about historical features of the park)
  • 13 children’s play area enhancements
  • two compost toilets 
  • three drinking water fountains.

It is anticipated that the second phase – with more than double the funding of Phase 1 available potentially - will be launched in the second week of June.

Cllr Sophie McGeevor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said: “This project is about supporting community groups in making improvements that are really important to them. The feedback we’ve received suggests even very small changes can make a real difference, helping to make our parks and open spaces more welcoming, more beautiful, more comfortable to use and easier to find – and have encouraged visitors to be more respectful.”

Feedback on specific improvements (photos attached) include:

Lumen Silviera, from Frendsbury Gardens, said: “We now have new front signage for our visitors and benches for them to enjoy. We have had record numbers of new visitors, so signage has helped them and local passers-by to find us. Providing more seating has encouraged people to stay and enjoy the garden and nature - particularly important this year due to the additional stresses of Coronavirus. The new raised beds have been wonderful additions as they make the garden look cared for.”

Jill Mountford, Besson Street Community Garden, said: “We’ve been able to replenish our bee and butterfly flower beds, develop new raised beds for vegetable growing and replenish the soil to ensure all the beautiful flowers and vegetables grow. Gardening volunteers who put a huge amount of time, love and commitment into maintaining and developing the community garden feel so much more appreciated when organisations invest some money into the development … we have had many, many visitors to the garden and more volunteers than ever before.”

Litsa Breingan, St John’s Society, said: “Currently, the five benches have been replaced and two bins. It has already upgraded the park enormously and the small park is being used much more. It is more welcoming and is encouraging a more diverse public. Just with the change of benches and keeping it clearer, all visitors to the park are now being more respectful.”

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