The TMO is committed to the long term improvement and development of the environment on our estate.

We are looking to do this via several strategies:

1. Maintenance of the pavements and brick work
2. Change the way we did our gardening to create a more nature friendly estate
3. Careful development of the open spaces
4. Development of a tree strategy plan

1. Maintenance of the pavements and brick work

This is becoming a huge task on the estate for a number of reasons:

- The estate is built on London clay and after a number of dry years we are experiencing problems with subsidence (not our homes)
- The high number of trees on the estate. When the estate was first built we had more trees than homes, in 2005 we had the same number of trees as homes, recent developments have lowered this a little further. Most of these are inappropriate in an estate setting like ours, so roots are now starting to cause problems.
- Where we know external work is being done we will work with developers and the council to try and get improvements done.

2. Change in gardening practices

- Last year we decided to revitalise our raised beds by removing most of the plants, top up the soil levels while adding more nutrients to the soil and put in new plants.
- The new plantings had to achieve two key criteria, be aesthetically pleasing and be wild life friendly.
- New grass cutting regime, allowing grass to grow a little taller allowing some of the plants to come through. As a result the grassed areas do not look so sterile and encourage a greater diversity in wild life. There were also practical reasons for this as it allows the gardener to work on the raised beds and deal with other issues.
- We have already seen a greater diversity in the number of birds we are seeing on the estate.

One of our more exotic visitors.

3. Careful development of open areas

This has been one of the more controversial areas of our work. Overall it has been successful to date, and has attracted a lot of good comments from off the estate. Including neighbouring estates, we have had visitors from other boroughs and the last two years have played host to housing students from Lewisham College. Over all it gives a strong positive message on what TMOs can achieve.

It has not been so popular with some of our residents. One tenant commented that the community garden ‘would fit in well if it was in Kensington, but not on a council estate off the Old Kent Road.’
Some would rather the old play areas were left in place.

However, beside being more aesthetically pleasing and trying to bring our open spaces into better use, these developments also help us to protect the open spaces we have. For a number of years there has been increasing pressure on the local council to find space for new builds, and with the current government (2011) pushing for councils to identify land for the development of homes it becomes more important that we make positive use of the open spaces we have before we lose them.

Councillor Poddy Clark and Chair, George Arkless by the community garden

4. Development of a tree strategy plan

As mentioned earlier trees are a major problem on the estate. This said the intention is not to just rip up all the trees on the estate.

A number of the trees need to be removed for safety reasons. Most of our grass areas are covering building rubble from when the estate was built. As a result some now have their roots exposed and are becoming unstable. Where many trees have been built close together there is evidence that the trees are competing with each other for water and have not been allowed to grow naturally.

So the first part of the plan would be to reduce the number of trees based on safety issues, and to identify which trees could be saved and allowed to grow more naturally with a better maintenance schedule.
While some trees will be replaced with more appropriate choices there is no intention to replace them all. We are also considering more hedging and bushes to encourage the diversity in wild life.

Just a few of our many trees

Other Issues

While the estate has no through roads, we do see a lot of foot traffic, and sadly some people do not see a problem with dropping a large amount of litter as they pass through our estate.

This is made worse by residents who refuse to put their rubbish out on the correct day, in the correct manner or use their rubbish keeps. While we continue to work on these issues it does mean that two particular species of wild life see our estate as 24/7 eatery, namely rats and mice.

Another problem is the number of dog owners who do not see a problem with letting their dogs poop on our land without picking up after them. In this case it seems to be from visitors from surrounding estates, including the private estates.

Dusk at Haddonhall