The newly opened Edible Bus Stop on Lambeth’s Landor Road, is the first of the capital’s ‘pocket parks’, which will be match-funded by the Government

The Edible Bus Stop 'pocket park' in Lambeth. Photograph: The Edible Bus Stop
The Edible Bus Stop 'pocket park' in Lambeth. Photograph: The Edible Bus Stop

If the Mayor meets his target, we can expect to see another 99 innovative pocket parks pop up all over the capital, along with thousands more street trees, by March 2015.

London’s first pocket park is described by the New London Landscape website, as providing ‘a blueprint for making small-scale green infrastructure interventions a reality’. Founded by Makaela Gilchrist and Will Sandy, under the ethos of ‘guerilla gardening with permission’, The Edible Bus Stop team worked with the local community around the site for two years before any money arrived.

‘First you need to find out if the community actually wants it,’ says Gilchrist, ‘then you animate the space – and you do that humbly by getting people to donate their time and plants. This shows people what even a little bit can do and gets them behind it.’

Successful pocket parks need a strong design ethos, she adds.

The park opened as part of the Chelsea Fringe, a series of events in London and beyond that runs until 9 June.

The next stage is to realise the aspirations for the site as detailed designs. Sandy, a landscape architect, says that high-quality design engenders pride in community spaces, and that this is recognised by the Pocket Parks Programme, which is looking for high standards of design.

It’s only at this stage that you can start applying for funding, he adds. With support from Lambeth Council’s Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme, The Edible Bus Stop received £20,000 matched funding for its pocket park at Landor Road and has since been awarded a further £10,000 to develop a plot at at West Norwood Fire Station Bus Stop H further along route 322.

‘Our grand plan is to create a network of gardens along route 322,’ says Gilchrist, who is also talking to Bromley Council about a third pocket park in Crystal Palace.

The Chelsea Fringe is now in its second year, a voluntarily run organisation that brings a mix of art and community projects to a range of places. It is an umbrella organisation, accepting and endorsing exciting proposals. This year one of the hubs is in the grounds of Battersea Power Station, giving the public access to the area that is, finally, undergoing redevelopment.

As part of the Chelsea Fringe, the Landscape Institute has organised a series of walks related to New London Landscape, the design ideas generated by the High Line for London competition. Two have already taken place, but there are is still one planned for 9 June. It is Street Orchard, a proposal to plant fruit trees at bus stops all over London.

Learn more about the Chelsea Fringe here.


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