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Volunteers keen to turn Bow housing estate a little greener are back after lockdown asking for ideas

PUBLISHED: 13:31 06 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:26 09 June 2020

What should we do with all this space? Families in Bow's Harley Grove want suggestions. Picture: James Clark

What should we do with all this space? Families in Bow's Harley Grove want suggestions. Picture: James Clark

James Clark

Environment enthusiasts with green fingers are planning to return after the lockdown ends with a project to turn a plain open space into an outdoor place for families in Bow to meet up and “connect with nature”.

Wilder Communities volunteers in March just finishing planting on Malmesbury estate before lockdown put paid to public gatherings. Picture: James ClarkWilder Communities volunteers in March just finishing planting on Malmesbury estate before lockdown put paid to public gatherings. Picture: James Clark

They want to do something with the open patch opposite the Harley Grove temple off Bow Road and have started an online survey to get ideas from the public.

Members of the Wilder Communities charity had already completed one project on Bow’s huge Malmesbury housing estate just in time before the lockdown began in March.

Now they want responses from families on the estate as well as people registered with Harley Grove medical centre, temple congregation members and parents from three schools in the neighbourhood to take part in the Wilder Communities survey by July 1.

“There is great interest in better public seating areas in Harley Grove,” the charity’s James Clark told the East London Advertiser. “People want better lighting, more trees and shrubs and a public art feature reflecting the local community.

Volunteers on the last project on Malesmbury estate just before the lockdown in March. Picture: James ClarkVolunteers on the last project on Malesmbury estate just before the lockdown in March. Picture: James Clark

“But we need people with ideas to take part in the online survey.”

The volunteers just managed to complete the last tree and shrub planting and grass turfing near Tom Thumb’s Arch and Bow Road Underground station in March before Covid-19 made community gatherings impossible. They managed to plant 39 fruit and nut trees, 73 fruit bushes, 12 fruiting climbers, 1,200 herbaceous plants and a wildflower meadow.

“The whole community got together just in time before the lockdown,” James said at the time. “The area was a barren square, mainly tarmac and a bit of grass, which we turned green.”

Now he is back with his volunteers to do the same down Harley Grove with the lockdown being eased. They are looking for funding and are already in talks with housing and other organisations.

The plain patch of grass in Harley Grove that volunteers want to turn into open air meeting place and wildlife habitate. Picture: James ClarkThe plain patch of grass in Harley Grove that volunteers want to turn into open air meeting place and wildlife habitate. Picture: James Clark

Central Foundation girls’ secondary in Harley Grove, which faces the busy A11 Bow Road, is supporting the Wilder Communities project as it would benefit with the open land being made “a more appealing space”. It is suggesting it could include an outdoor classroom for pupils.

The nearby Phoenix school says the proposals for the green by the volunteers would also be “a new lease of life for this tired space”.


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