Mayor invites Londoners to help create one of his 100 ‘pocket parks’

17 January 2014

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, is calling on volunteers and community groups to apply for grants of up to £20,000 each to help transform more of London’s unloved spaces into ‘Pocket Parks’ – tennis court sized green retreats for local neighbourhoods to enjoy.

The £500,000 community grant fund is part of a £2m investment for 100 ‘Pocket Parks’ being created by the Mayor across London by March 2015. From sensory gardens and treehouses to edible bus stops and rooftop orchards, around 60 projects are already underway, 11 of which are led by community groups. The next ‘pocket parks’ could revive rundown playgrounds, renovate unloved alleyways, or recharge communal vegetable patches. This is the opportunity for Londoners to come together and decide what will most benefit their neighbourhood, whether a place for growing, sitting, learning, meeting or encouraging local wildlife.

Among the community-led ‘pocket parks’ already underway is a previously unused space on Yorkshire Grove housing estate in Hackney. There, thanks to a group of 20 volunteers and £9,800 from the Mayor this patch of green has been planted with 1,000 bulbs and a new ping pong table installed, with more gardening to follow. Another is springing up in Haringey thanks to £16,500 from the Mayor which is helping to transform a dilapidated children’s play area into a sensory garden, treehouse, and mud play area due to complete next month.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “It is so exciting to see my ‘pocket parks’ springing up all over London as this fantastic project to reinvest pint-sized pots of land goes from strength to strength. With help and support from local communities we are turning small and forgotten urban spaces into small green havens within the city and making London an even better place to live, work and invest.”

Max Mueller from the Dinosaur Play Park in Haringey said: “The funding is helping us transform a derelict corner of west Tottenham into a new play park. In an area where there are very few play facilities, we wanted to create a space where children would be excited to play. The dinosaur play feature and mud play area are becoming really popular, so we can’t wait to see the response when the park is finished”

Madlyn Ray-Jones from Yorkshire Grove Play Area in Hackney said: “We are really pleased with the progress of our project, especially as we have received such a positive response from the local community. It was fantastic to see so many community members involved in helping us plant 1,000 bulbs which were donated as a result of publicising our project through Project Dirt.”

The ‘pocket parks’ community grant scheme is being delivered by Groundwork on behalf of the Mayor. It will build on the work of Groundwork’s Transform initiative which began as a key part of the London 2012 Changing Places programme and has already forged close links with local partners, most of them small community groups.

Anita Konrad, Director, Groundwork London said: “We were delighted with the imaginative pocket parks proposals that local groups submitted in the first round of the scheme. These prove that small-scale community-led initiatives have the power to transform local neighbourhoods. We're now looking forward to more 'pocket park' ideas which will make this city an even better place to live, work in and visit.”

Blogs, progress reports and more information about the community-led ‘pocket parks’ is available on the Project Dirt website: http://www.projectdirt.com/cluster/pocketparks/#!/projects

 

Notes to editors

The first ‘pocket park’, the ‘Edible Bus Stop’, on Landor Road in Stockwell opened in May with £20,000 from City Hall. An empty piece of land behind a bus stop, created when a bomb dropped during the Second World War, has been transformed into a thriving community garden growing vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, and providing an attractive meeting point for local people.

 - The community grant scheme offers grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 to local community groups to create around 40 ‘Pocket Parks’.

- The deadline for applications is 10th March. For details of how to apply for a grant, please download the Pocket Parks Application pack from www.groundwork.org.uk/london or http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/greening-london/improvin...

- Groundwork London is a social and environmental regeneration charity that creates and delivers programmes and projects aimed at:

*Improving people’s prospects – delivering support to increase the confidence, skills, well-being and employability of those furthest removed from the labour market, in particular young people;

* Promoting greener living and working – helping people and businesses learn more about their environmental impact and act responsibly to reduce natural resource use and improve their health;

* Creating better places – supporting people to work collectively to make their surroundings greener, safer and healthier and be actively involved in the way decisions are made about services in their area. - Many of these projects involve community spirited volunteers.

The Mayor’s Team London programme is seeking to build a volunteering legacy following the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by encouraging Londoners to do something great for their city. To search for opportunities or to sign up to receive updates of new volunteering opportunities go to london.gov.uk/teamlondon/register-for-updates - Each project is required to match the funding from City Hall.

To help community groups raise the required match funding, a 'pocket park' cluster has been created on crowd funding platform Spacehive. For more information please visit: http://spacehive.com/initiatives/London - Trees and plants provide a range of benefits including helping to improve local air quality and reduce flood risk, providing shade and offering a haven for wildlife.