Broadway Community Garden

Essex

Evaluation

Creative consultation

Investment in creative consultation with local people as a crucial part of the design process has resulted in a popular and well-used community garden designed to meet the needs of local people. It has also led to the reduction of crime in the area.

Maintenance problems

The area designed specifically for horses has been the least successful part of the garden. When horses were kept in the area, they were able to jump over the edges of the space into other areas of the garden, creating a health and safety risk. Only a handful of horse events have been held on the site.

The boundaries of each area of the garden were designed to secure the garden and provide space for adventurous play. The horse area boundary is flourishing and is full of wild flowers and grasses, but the children’s play area has eroded away because the flowers have been trampled and the wire mesh has been exposed. Their maintenance is difficult because they don’t confirm to normal flat parks designed by the council. Specialist mowing equipment is harder to use, and adds an extra burden to the workload of maintenance staff.

Safety and security

Some residents want the garden to be secured by a fence and locked up at night. Erecting a fence would have meant the garden would have needed set opening hours and it wouldn’t have been the open, inclusive space that it was designed to be. Many residents feel that safety isn’t a concern due to the way the sight is lit up at night, and because residents can see right across the garden easily.

The importance of green space

Residents from the estate are happy the garden was built. Thurrock Council had given the green space a final chance to provide a useful facility for the estate. If the garden had not been a success houses and flats would have been built on the site, leaving the estate with no green area. As Linzi Leslie, a resident on Broadway Estate said 'We need a park, if you build houses where are the kids going to hang around?'

It took time and hard work for Susan Hastie to convince residents and the council that the project would have a positive impact on the community. 'Myself and the people from the regeneration group at the council were of the same mindset - we wanted something different for the area and it took a lot of hard work to convince people that this was the best thing for Broadway Estate.' Susan would advise any other council to go down the same route, as she believes that consultation with local people was the key to its success.