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Rejuvenating community spaces

When they discovered that their local ‘grot spot’ didn’t belong to anyone, the residents of Kensington Road, Bristol, got stuck into transforming the 9m x 2m strip of land into a communal garden.

Skirting the edge of communal garages, the rubble-strewn patch had become overgrown with brambles and a magnet for fly-tipping, drug use and dog mess.

In a street where the average front garden measures just 3m2, residents decided to develop the bed into a communal garden, leaving half brambled for local wildlife. The land was cleared and peat-free compost dug in to help rejuvenate the soil. A local carpenter created raised beds from reclaimed railway sleepers and plants were provided from the council’s nursery stock.

However the group was uncertain the garden would flourish, explained KRRA Chairperson Grenville Johnson. “We had to treat the first year as a pilot as we had no idea if there was any residual pollution in the ground,” he said. “But in fact the plants have taken really well and the beds looking incredibly healthy. We’ve even got plans for a vegetable patch now too.”

Beyond improving the environment, the project has also bonded the community. “We’ve got a very diverse mix of people in this street and everyone’s joined in” said Grenville. “Lots of people have carried it on in their own gardens, putting out tubs and pots, and we’ve also lobbied the local council to replace our street trees. All in all it’s been a wonderful thing for our street.”

Kensington Road Residents’ Association is an It’s Your Neighbourhood group and also a regular prize winner at Bristol in Bloom, where they’ve picked up the ‘It’s Your Street’ award for the last two years.

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