London housing estate residents to invite public to explore gardens in bid to dispel negative impressions

Some of the capital’s biggest estates are opening their gates to the public for the free event, timed to coincide with Open Garden Squares Weekend

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Residents of housing estates across London hope to dispel negative misconceptions about social housing by inviting the public to explore their gardens next weekend.

Some of the capital’s biggest estates are opening their gates to the public for the free event, timed to coincide with Open Garden Squares Weekend, which offers access to some of the grandest and most bountiful gardens the city has to offer.

“The idea of a lovely tranquil garden on a council estate goes against everything people are told is wrong with London’s social housing, and in particular the myth of estates as unwelcoming ‘concrete jungles’,” said Geraldine Dening of Architects for Social Housing, the collective behind Open Garden Estates.

Four estates are taking part so far: Cressingham Gardens in Brixton,  Knights Walk in Kennington, Central Hill estate in Gipsy Hill and West Hendon estate, in Barnet.

However, Ms Dening, an architect and a senior lecturer at De Montfort University in Leicester, is keen for green-fingered residents on estates across the Britain to follow suit and invite locals into their gardens.

“Estates everywhere in the UK could benefit from putting on similar events – it’s not just about London. It’s about giving residents agency, wherever they are, and changing people’s perceptions,” she said. “I would encourage people in all cities to go out and do this.”

Cressingham Gardens is a low-rise, low-density estate next to the gentle, rolling inclines of Brockwell Park. Like many of London’s estates it faces forced redevelopment by the council.

Nicholas Greaves, who has lived there for five years, has been the driving force behind the creation of a 35-metre rain garden, irrigated by water run-off, which he believes is the biggest of its kind in London. Flowering dogwood, Japanese quince, irises and ferns cover pits of soil and gravel half a metre deep.

“People love it. I get stopped by people cutting through the estate on their way to work, complementing it,” said Mr Greaves.

A spokesman for Lambeth Council said: “The regeneration will replace the homes, many of which are in a poor condition.”

Comments