DWBL Award: £1,350
A garden project to improve the area and bring neighbours together
- Hanging baskets and raised flower beds
- Planting fruit and veg for affordable healthy eating
- For children to learn about horticulture
- A shed for tool storage
- Improved security (lighting/gates, funded elsewhere)
- Halloween and Christmas parties last year
- Residents Association formed
- Future plan to convert bike shed in to community facility
- DWBL contribution to project
Info from Shackleton Close Residents Association
Shackleton Close was built 5 years ago on the old coach park off Cavendish Place. It is a beautiful, quiet little close that you would not know is there unless you go there.
The close consists of 4 houses and 15 flats, a mix of 1 and 2 bedroom.
When we moved in almost 3 years ago, neighbours barely spoke to one another. You might have got a nod in the car park if you were lucky! There wasn’t much we could do at first as my husband was newly disabled and we were trying to deal with that, get benefits sorted out etc and I was busy decorating but we made a point of saying hello. The following year we decided that we would organise a Halloween party for the close. We put notes in everyone’s letter boxes asking if they thought it was a good idea and the response was amazing! We had a fantastic night and all but a couple of residents came along. That night we knew we could form a Residents Association and bring this community together.
We contacted our Housing Officer and she put us in touch with our Customer Engagement Officer, Leyla Mesout, and we held our first meeting! Our group started fairly small but as neighbours have talked and plans for the gates have come to fruition our group has grown and people are getting excited about living here again. We have since had a bigger and better Halloween party and a Christmas party this past year .
Due to a few ‘bad apples’, our close has had a bad reputation in the past and we have strived to improve this and also to improve the morale of the residents by improving the security of the close and working closely with the local PCSO’s to report anything that’s not quite right going on. The electronic gates will stop illegal parking, we have 15 flats and 8 parking spaces and drivers just ignore the resident only parking signs and if challenged have been verbally abusive to residents. The lack of lighting invites ‘drug deals’ to be done in dark corners by people who just come in off the street but who will no longer be able to once the gates are installed and lighting improved.
We have secured a grant from Stonewater Housing, our Housing Association which will provide electronic gates to the front of our small close, better lighting, the flooded area to the rear and sides of the building will be paved where raised flower and vegetable beds will then be built and to partially remodel the unused bike shed into a community ‘hub’.
The gates are elegant, and will enhance the look of the ‘outside’. Once inside, we want to create a beautiful entrance, hanging baskets will brighten the building, old dark bushes will be replaced with flowers to attract bees and to waft smells across the car park.
Our first plan is to grow fruits and vegetables. A lot of the residents here rely on benefits. They find it hard to afford fresh fruit and vegetables. We are not planning to compete with the local greengrocers, just to grow things such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, strawberries, carrots. If we are lucky to get a glut of certain items, we can blanch and freeze them.
We would also like to teach the children who live here, where food comes from and how easy it is to grow your own. We are hoping to ‘pot’ plant fruit trees, such as apple or plum. Herbs will also be grown. We already have a well established rosemary bush to the front of the building and more will be added this summer.
The second phase of our project is to repurpose the brick built bike shed that is a dumping ground and looks more like a ‘bike graveyard’. The lock does not work so no one uses it to store their bike. Such a waste of useful space.
The only work that can be done to the bike shed from the Stonewater grant is to have the bike racks removed and a secure lock put on the door. We have a long term plan to have one window removed and turned into a door so that the building can be divided into two with a view to installing large token operated tumble dryers/washing machine within a secure cage and the other end of the building will be an area for meetings, computer lessons, catch ups and coffee and a chat.
We have a lot of residents who don’t have washing machines or dryers. Nor does the building have washing lines or rotary dryers outside. Drying wet washing over radiators or on airers can be a major cause of damp and mould in homes and is detrimental to health.
We are eventually hoping to spread out into the wider community and help set up community gardens all over Devonshire West and offer our community hub for groups to use.