Community Garden History - Moor Pool History

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Moor Pools Pocket Park


 
In 2009 a visit to Hampstead Garden Suburb was to be the inspiration for having our own pocket park in Moor Pool. Elsewhere in Birmingham the Council had been creating small pocket parks. The one at Hampstead was simple being an open lawned area with perimeter flower beds and a few trees and benches - a place of tranquillity where one could sit and enjoy the pleasant environment. Moor Pools early plans showed that a park was one of the featured spaces but had never come to fruition. Over 100 years later the opportunity could turn into a reality.
 
Site B, as Grainger plc termed it, at the bottom of Margaret Grove had been destined for redevelopment. A group of houses were planned and the tennis courts, one of the earliest sporting facilities provided on the Estate would have been moved. There had been earlier attempts in the 90s to redevelop this site and as usual the process of clearing it of allotment tenants and allowing it to fall in disuse had been in train. Behind a hedge this valuable plot was almost completely forgotten except when its potential for development was again realised by Grainger plc.
As the residents associations comprising the MRG (Moor Pool Regeneration Group) MRA Moor Pool Residents Association and MAA (Moor Pool Allotment Association put together a stiff resistance to the development plans, its location became a little more apparent. Still few people had been on it other than to survey for wildlife as part of the planning objections and so it remained rather unappreciated.

Grainger pulled back on developing Site B and the adjacent tennis courts and instead without any consultation a proposal came forward to use the area for recreation and wildlife. The wildlife aspect had been prompted by the badgers which used part of the area. The proposal was met with strong concern by local residents who for years had endured nuisance at the poorly managed lock up garages including drug use and other undesirable activities. There had been no consultion with residents or Police and it was clear that if this space was to be used properly it would need to be managed and not unregulated.
The Council were instead prompted to allow the space either as a pocket park or community garden and a local resident volunteered to produce a design following a brief to enable the space for the benefit of the community.



The original pocket park design with substantial wildlife area.
The NW corner would be substantially lawned with borders along the banked edges whilst the SE and Easterly end would be left mostly to wildlife. The easterly end comprised an almost inpenetrable thicket which with the addition of some further thorned varieties of undergrowth should prove a natural barrier to access other than the pedestrian gate at the western end. An existing section of fence on Margaret Grove would be the location for a wider access gate for materials and equipment. The culvert would be bridged and this slightly raised area would form a stage for occasional open air performances. Behind the bridge would be a hardstanding for performers to prepare. The possibility was considered of creating a joint building with the tennis club which would provide for their needs and also support community events. Numerous badger runs criss crossed the land and the openings to setts supported the assertion by Grainger that badgers were in evidence.
To promote interest in the garden a booklet was created which was given out at various events.
As part of the allotment restoration conditioned as part of the subsequent planning permission, the Trust and Banner Homes who had bought the sites off Grainger sat down together to work out a programme of allotment restoration. With the agreement of the planning officer part of the funds were earmarked for securing 'site B' and clearing aspects that would be beyond volunteers as well as providing an access gate in keeping with the Estate. Considerable time was spent agreeing specifications, sourcing suppliers and supervising the cost and progress of this work. It then transpired that not all was harmonious from the Councils viewpoint. Banner were now came under some pressure because of the badger factor and there was a danger that the pocket park might be a non starter or so severely restricted that key elements from a delivery aspect would be lost. From a planning point of view the pocket park had been agreed and was part of the planning permission mitigation whilst considerable money from the funds had been spent installing the fencing. We were not going to be stopped but care was needed in proceeding and so strict instructions were issued that the wildlife area was to be left undisturbed. 

Opportunities


  • Provide a safe area for families to meet.


  • Complete Nettlefolds vision.


  • Provide space for occasional community open air events.


  • May Pole dancing venue.


  • Enhance opportunity for English Heritage Parks and Gardens registration.




Fencing was installed to the majority of the open perimeter to provide security for the garden. Close to the hedges its expected over time it will either become overgrown or act as support for climbing plants.

Late in 2015, a grant opportunity was flagged up run by the governments Department for Communities and Local Government. A revised plan was quickly devised which retained the essential community green space of the western end of the plot. Costings for fencing and pathways based on the recent repairs to the path by the Moor Pool were used to formulate a budget and the basis for an application. The grant application for £8,535 was successful and the opportunity to turn the vision into reality beckoned. Included in the plan was a substantial wildlife area with a viewing hide. The culvert and wildlife area would be secured with estate style fencing which over time could naturally be allowed to be overgrown. The wildlife area properly managed would hopefully encourage the various wildlife to prosper and become a valuable aspect of the educational delivery programme whilst ensuring the garden remained as secure from unauthorised access as possible.
The access was from the adjacent pathway avoiding the road and in the direction of the bulk of the Estate. The plan avoided distubance of the Estates traditional copper beech hedging. The original access position for the gate had been moved due to resident concerns and would now entail a lengthy entrance path to meet access requirements for which plenty of space is available.
 
The application for Parks and Gardens registration which had been made by English Heritage, would if successful have been an opportunity to support applications for green space grants sorely needed to support the extensive non income producing areas that would be owned by the community. Careful choice of garden features reflecting the Estate heritage would support this application which had been on hold whilst there were clear question marks over the Estates open space future as a result of the development plans by Grainger plc.
Parks and Gardens registration for an urban space would have been an exceptional success further establishing Moor Pools credentials and the fact that it retains so much of the original vision.
 
 
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