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Planter and borders filled with new plants being put in by children and adults in a residential area Planter and borders filled with new plants being put in by children and adults in a residential area

#MoreLand To Connect Communities

By Sara Venn

Our #MoreLand campaign is gathering strength and we thought it might be useful to think about the types of land that are so often underutilised where good use and will for change could really help to connect community.

Social housing land is especially one area we would like to address. In so many places there are huge tracts of land on estates and around flats that go completely unused and are just mowed regularly with the odd tree added from time to time. These areas could be put to such good use by communities, for communities and create real spaces for connection. And yet this seems to rarely happen, despite the need for neighbours to meet and feel a valued part of a community. These spaces should be seen as community assets rather than spaces that just take maintenance and feel like they aren’t useable or accessible.

Whilst there have been a handful of projects that have addressed social housing land, (the Poppy Estate in Hackney is one to be applauded), it seems that whilst this could have been an opportunity to show best practice, there is a fear of committing to these projects by local authorities who seem somewhat fearful of resourcing the communities rather than the maintenance teams, and so this land is wasted. But what if that were a different picture?

What if communities were resourced to maintain that land themselves, with proper contracts so that expectations were managed for both sides? Bringing together those communities, in an Incredible Edible type way by beginning with a community meeting to put ideas to people and then allowing them to decide and implement works, and tender for those contacts, could be a valuable way to ensure land is managed for people and our environment rather that for health and safety alone. A resourced and empowered community could then be supported to set up any necessary organisation, or come together as a community group with adequate resource to ensure success.

In a world where funding and grants are becoming more and more difficult to find, creating effective community enterprise, not only supports people into work, but gives communities the opportunity to work towards their own ideas and create the spaces to support them. Whether community orchards, playgrounds, forest gardens or growing spaces, inevitably community enterprise will create far more nature friendly and therefore people friendly spaces.

Why not take a photo of a space near you that you think could be better used by communities and post it to social media with the tag #MoreLand and get involved in our campaign for better land use for communities!!