All posts by Cath

Damage to community planting

Last spring residents brightened up Palace Road Estate by planting flowers, with support from Urban Growth.

Community planting event – 31 March 2019

The geraniums which we planted in the long bed at the entrance to Coburg Crescent, near Despard House, had been doing particularly well. There has been a fine display of green foliage and pink flowers this spring and summer.

Geranium sanguineum ‘Vision Pink’ – May 2020

In early August the geraniums in this bed lost their leaves and flowers and their stems were damaged.

Damaged geranium – 5 August 2020

The geraniums along the length of the bed were damaged in this way. The photos below from early July and early August are “before” and “after” images. In the “before” photo, geranium foliage can be seen along the length of the front of the bed; this was still present at the beginning of August. In the “after” photo, the geranium foliage along the front of the bed has disappeared.

The damage occurred on Monday 3 or Tuesday 4 August. A member of the Estate’s gardening group spotted the damage on the Tuesday afternoon. Pinnacle – the council’s grounds maintenance contractors – had been on the estate on the Monday to mow and strim.

Pieces of geranium foliage had been left lying in the bed. These demonstrate that the plants had still been in leaf when they were damaged.

Geranium foliage left lying in the bed – 4 August 2020

The gardening group co-ordinator has sent a complaint to Lambeth Council asking for an apology for the damage and replacement of the damaged plants. She has also asked for assurance that the council and their contractors will not damage other planting performed by residents. An update will be provided on this blog once a full response has been received.

Gardening group update: enhancing our estate

One of the gardening group’s aims is to brighten up the estate and the local area. Recently we brought a disused planter on Palace Road, outside Baly House, back into use.

In June we cleared the planter of weeds and self-seeded trees. We also broke up the compacted soil. Here are members of the group hard at work.

Then in July we put in the wonderful plants shown in the photos below. These plants were donations from Chelsea Physic Garden. This amazing garden, tucked away beside the Thames, is the oldest botanic garden in London. It contains a collection of around 5,000 different edible, useful and medicinal plants that have changed the world. It’s well worth a visit!

Many thanks to Nell Jones, the Head Gardener at Chelsea Physic Garden, for passing these spare plants on to our community gardening group. Thanks too to Iain Houten, Marketing Officer, for helping to arrange for us to collect them.

Collecting the plants from Chelsea Physic Garden

Do you have further ideas for how the gardening group could brighten up the estate? Would you like to get involved? Do contact us at gardening@prera.org.uk

How to install a vegetable planter in 7 easy steps

In a previous post, we wrote about the gardening group’s ‘productive planters’. In this post, we look in a bit more detail at how the planters were installed.

Step 1: Choosing a good spot

We chose the area between the service road and Chalner, Despard and Ponton Houses. This spot gets good sunlight for most of the day. Lots of residents pass by and can enjoy seeing the plants grow and help to pick the produce. Also, several members of the gardening group live close by and can help with watering. We informed Lambeth Council, as the legal landowners, of our plans.

Step 2: Moving the planters into place

The planters were made by Farrans at the Resource Centre construction site with wood salvaged from the old shop. We carried them through the estate to their new home.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 3: Lining the planters

Next, we lined the planters. The material was kindly donated by Iain Houten from Mawbey Farm on Mawbey Brough Estate in north Lambeth. We used a staple gun to secure the liner to the planter.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 4: Knocking the planters into the ground

We knocked the planters into the ground using a very big hammer to ensure that they would be stable and wouldn’t move.

Learning point: The lining material started to come off whilst we were knocking the planters into the ground. When we installed two further planters the following weekend, we lined the planters after knocking them into the ground. That worked much better.

Learning point: The ground is very hard in this area of the estate and it was very difficult to knock the first two planters into the ground. We asked Farrans to make the next two planters with much shorter legs. That made this step much easier.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 5: Filling the planters with soil and compost

We filled the planters with soil which Farrans had given us from the Resource Centre construction site. We added compost on the top. This had been kindly donated by Pinnacle.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 6: Planting seedlings

Children from the estate, helped by their parents, planted seedlings in the new planters.

This child and his sister brought along these wonderful brightly coloured tools
Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 7: Watering the new seedlings

The children watered the seedlings after planting them. A team of residents from the estate is continuing to water the plants every day.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Would you like to get involved with the Palace Road Estate gardening group? If so, do get in touch by email at gardening@prera.org.uk

Gardening group update: productive planters

At the end of June and in early July, the Palace Road Estate gardening group installed four planters in the grassy area between Chalner, Despard and Ponton Houses. We’re growing herbs and vegetables for local residents to harvest and enjoy.

The new planters in late July – the herbs and vegetables are thriving

The planters were made by Farrans who are building the Resource Centre on Coburg Crescent.

Cath from the gardening group collecting a new planter from Farrans
Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

We took soil from the construction site to fill the planters. Reusing materials in this way is good for the environment.

Rob from the gardening group transporting soil from the construction site to the planting area

Local children helped to plant herbs and vegetable seedlings in the new planters. The plants are being watered regularly by a team of local residents and they’re looking really healthy. Tomatoes, beans and squashes are starting to form and will hopefully be ready to pick soon.

Don’t these tomatoes look amazing!

Thank you to the following people:

  • Farrans for building the planters and providing the soil
  • Pinnacle for providing compost
  • Chelsea Physic Garden for donating white beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli and chillis
  • Iain Houten from Mawbey Brough Estate for donating a range of herb and vegetable seedlings
  • Incredible Edible Lambeth and the Capital Growth Community Harvest initiative for their ongoing support of the Palace Road Estate gardening group.

Would you like to get involved in gardening on Palace Road Estate? Or do you have suggestions which you’d like to share for improving our green spaces? Do contact us at gardening@prera.org.uk

Coburg Crescent: missed recycling collections

Recycling was not collected on Coburg Crescent for two weeks in a row. A PRERA committee member and a Street Champion from Coburg Crescent got in touch with Veolia last week to try to get this sorted out.

Veolia did then come to the estate yesterday (Friday) and they picked up recycling along the service road. However, recycling which has been building up in other areas of Coburg Crescent due to the missed collections was not removed.

A build up of recycling due to two missed collections (this was finally removed yesterday)

A further request has been sent to Veolia today (Saturday) to ask them to pick up the remaining recycling as soon as possible. We have also asked them to look into why the collections were missed and to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

An example of a build up of recycling which is still here today (Saturday)

If you ever need to report a missed collection of rubbish or recycling, you can do it online using this the form on the Lambeth Council website: https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/rubbish-and-recycling/rubbish-collections/report-a-missed-rubbish-or-recycling-collection

Nature blog: common frog

Did you know that we have common frogs living on Palace Road Estate? We might expect them to be living in ponds. That’s where they breed during spring. However, they spend much of the rest of the year living and feeding in places like gardens, meadows and woodland.

A common frog (Rana temporaria) photographed in a garden on Coburg Crescent

Common frogs are carnivores, meaning that they feed on other animals. They eat things like flies, worms, snails and slugs. These types of animals are known as invertebrates (animals without a backbone) or mini-beasts. There are plenty of mini-beasts living in the gardens and grounds of Palace Road Estate.

This common frog has been spending time in an Ophiopogon plant in a garden in Coburg Crescent. It’s well hidden there from predators like cats.

Where do you think it will go to breed? One of the ponds in Palace Road Nature Garden, perhaps?

You can read more about common frogs on the Froglife and the Wildlife Trusts websites.

Grass repair: thank you Engie

Thank you to Engie who have levelled and sown grass seed on a patch of damaged ground. Engie are performing major works on the estate and the damage was caused by vehicles accessing their site compound. Damage first occurred 8 months ago back in November 2019 and continued to occur during the winter and spring.

Luckily the two new apple trees which were planted nearby by residents in February have remained unscathed. Hopefully the grass will soon re-grow in the re-seeded patch and this lawn area will regain a uniform and attractive appearance.

Damaged ground back in 2019
Ongoing damage in spring 2020
A photo of the repaired ground taken today

Wall and railings: when will they be repaired?

The wall and railings at the pedestrian entrance to the estate on Christchurch Road were badly damaged 6 months ago (early December 2019). This was due to a lorry crashing into them.

The Neighbourhood Housing Officer for the estate provided the following update this week:

“The repairs team have informed us that the works are authorised and are on issued status. The target date is 19th August 2020.

“All the information relating to the driver was passed over to our claims department, which are dealing with the driver’s insurance company.”

Resource Centre update

A resident of the estate (Cath) has been in regular contact with the Project Manager at Lambeth Council. She has been continuing to emphasise the need for clear and timely communication with local residents. She has requested that before any work starts on the construction site, local residents are given information about the measures that are in place to ensure the safety of workers and residents. The contractors (Farrans) are currently preparing a newsletter.

It sounds as though construction work is planned to start next month. Before the main work starts, there will be some activities to get the site ready, such as putting up a new hoarding (barrier) around the site. The newsletter will hopefully contain further details on timings and activities.

Cath has also asked for the following information to be provided to local residents: an explanation of why work is going to start soon, during the continuing pandemic, when the site has been abandoned for 4 years; what will be done to minimise the impact of the construction work on local residents and the local neighbourhood (for example, the measures to minimise noise and dust and the impact of site traffic).

The best-one shop is now on Palace Road, opposite the Nature Garden.
This unit is a temporary one as the Resource Centre will contain a shop.

Cath has been continuing to pursue various other matters on behalf of local residents. These include:

  • Asking for up to date signs to be put up around the Resource Centre site. The current ones indicate that the building should have been completed by now!
  • Arranging for paving bricks which will be removed during construction to be saved for repairs elsewhere on the estate.
  • Arranging for the PRERA noticeboard, which would end up within the construction site, to be moved further down Palace Road.
  • Arranging for an urgent repair to fill a hole in the pavement beside the construction site. This was completed yesterday.

If you have any questions or concerns that you would like raised with the Project Manager, do get in touch at contact@prera.org.uk

Saving our paving

Across Coburg Crescent, there is distinctive paving from when the estate was built in the 1970s. Unfortunately, over the years, repairs have been done with concrete or tarmac or just left bare.

When the Resource Centre is built on Coburg Crescent, hundreds of paving bricks will be dug up. We have asked the council to save these to use for repairs around Coburg Crescent. They have acknowledged that this is a good idea. However, finding somewhere to store the bricks seems to be a challenge.

We have offered a couple of solutions:

  • The paving bricks could be stored in the disused garages on the estate.
  • The paving bricks shouldn’t need to be stored. There are numerous areas of defective paving around the estate where these bricks are needed. If relevant departments within the council (e.g. Resident Services, Repairs) and the contractor (Farrans) can act collaboratively, then the bricks could be used straight away where they are needed.

We will continue to pursue this and we’ll keep residents updated via this blog.

Examples of defective paving on Coburg Crescent: