Thanks to the combined efforts of ‘the beast from the east’ and Storm Emma, there will be no work at the PPR Community Garden today. Next session 17 March.
A Community Economic Development Plan for South Norwood
In June 2016, PPR applied for and won a modest grant that enabled us to develop what is known as a Community Economic Development Plan for South Norwood. Thousands of local groups bid for this. We were one of only 20 successful applicants!
The idea behind this is that local people work together with businesses and other ‘stakeholders’ like the council, to find ways of improving and regenerating the local area for local community. So often, when an area changes for the better this results in ‘gentrification’: many local people are then priced out and the area is totally changed. We want to improve South Norwood while protecting all the many good things about it.
One key way of doing this is encouraging more wealth generation that stays in the local area. This can be done through encouraging and supporting local entrepreneurs to set up new businesses and create new jobs. They could then occupy the empty shops that blight our local high streets. New and improved businesses will then encourage more local residents to shop, play and socialise locally, generating income for local businesses.
A working group was formed including local residents, councillors, businesses and representatives from Croydon Council. Under the banner ‘We Love SE25’ meetings were held at the Stanley Halls where a succession of conversations was held with residents and businesses, rather than any formal presentation. We also floated the idea of a community hub and asked for people’s ideas about what they’d like to see take place there. Surveys were completed both for residents and businesses to understand what was loved and what was wanted in South Norwood.
As of summer 2017, we are collating the information and putting together a ‘Plan for South Norwood’ and intend to carry on using our branding ‘We Love SE25’ as the recognisable logo of this activity.
You can read the final version of the plan here
South Norwood Country Park is an amazing and unique nature reserve with 125 acres of wetland, lakes and meadows, it is home to a huge array of plants and animals. We have the countryside on our doorstep in SE25!
Friends of South Norwood Country Park was formed in November 2014 to help maintain the park for the benefit of the plants and animals and to ensure the park is a place where all the community can enjoy nature.
They work closely with the park wardens and have monthly workdays on the second Saturday of each month, meeting at 10am at the Visitor Centre. They also hold regular wildlife walks throughout the year, looking at birds, bats or butterflies.
If you love this park, why not join the Friends of South Norwood Country Park? You can do this by going to their website
Since April 2006, visitors to South Norwood Library and passers-by have been greeted by a mosaic artwork in the forecourt of the library. This was originally designed by Tamara Froud from Mosaic Art and inspired by the heritage of the area. The design was carried out working with local schools, community groups and members of the public. May Johnson, a local heritage expert, was on hand to advise and help with the design and commissioning.
Over the years, the mosaic had been badly damaged, not least by vehicles parking on it! So in 2014 discussions began between Tamara, local councillors and community groups with a view to repairing the damage. In September 2015 the repairs were finally completed, bringing the mosaic back to its former splendour. PPR was involved in these discussions and donated £500 to help pay for the repair. We also put pressure on the Council to ensure it was protected from vehicles in future!
The railway bridge over the northern end of Portland Road creates beneath it a very poor quality public area, which is dark, unappealing and dirty. It has become a foreboding barrier dividing South Norwood into two halves.
Despite the current situation, the bridge has the potential to be transformed into positive linking space. This could form an important project within the wider South Norwood regeneration strategy. A comprehensive and unified project is required by Network Rail and Croydon Council, potentially with outside funding from the GLA and possibly other sources, to transform this space.
Our vision is to transform this negative urban space into an attractive gateway, linking Portland Road to the rest of the centre of South Norwood, through a public art installation-led public realm solution.
Once a viable project is established the designer/artist would be appointed. They will develop the initial designs which will be costed. Once all parties have signed off the initial scheme, the local community will be consulted on the development of the proposals. Given the approach of having a design-led approach, all creative thinking should remain the property and copyright of the artist until the project is completed.
After London Overground took over the management of Norwood Junction station in 2010, the cleanliness and appearance of the station was much improved, and PPR proposed to the Overground that it set up and maintain planters on the platforms to further brighten up the experience of the many people who pass through the station. The Overground agreed to fund the first two planters on platform 1, and PPR raised more funding to install and maintain planters on platforms 4/5 and 6. This was made possible by PPR volunteers who built the planters, carted bags of compost and bought plants, as well as the team who continue to change the planting twice a year (funding needs to be ongoing), water and care for the plants every week. People often comment, in person or online, that they enjoy seeing the planters, and this makes all the work involved very rewarding for us. We hope you enjoy seeing them too.
Held in November 2016 in the lovely setting of South Norwood Baptist church, the fair brought together artists and craftspeople from the local area, as well as the lovely Rose Bartlett playing vintage music, and Jacqui’s team cooking delicious treats in the kitchen. All the traders had handmade their goods, which included jewellery, bags, watercolours, cards, cushions, lanterns, decorations, baby accessories and much more.Kids had fun in a special kids’ area, with craft tables, toys and books. The fair raised £150, which PPR has donated to Croydon Council’s fund for victims of the recent tragic tram accident.
Through 2016, PPR raised funding to brighten up the well-used but unsightly playground in Apsley Road. We held two work days, where groups of local residents, including a dozen young citizenship scheme volunteers, cleared overhanging vegetation, painted bright designs on the walls and decorated the wire fence with bright fluttering ribbons.
In March 2017 the playground was again transformed with fabulous street art. The work was organised by PPR, using funding from the local councillors’ delegated ward budget. We had help from Rob Swain of Gamma Proforma at 14 Portland Road, who introduced us to the artist, Will Barras.
The work took all day, and children from Oasis Academy Ryelands came along to give ideas for themes and objects that they’d like to see included in the mural. Their school ‘Circle of Inclusion’ was added to acknowledge their input.
More work is planned in the playground, and we are considering installing a new piece of play equipment to replace one piece that was removed because it was unsafe.
These are some of the things residents have said
“Love it! Just noticed it today!”
“Well done. Love it when things get done for the little ones”
“Just what South Norwood needs. Thank you to the artist for the beautiful work”
“Love it – will go and look next week! Well done to the artists”
“Looked amazing in the sun”
“I love it, so bright & perfect for inspiring kids play. Looking forward to checking it out with the little ones”
PPR are currently arranging for the rest of the walls to be similarly painted, again by Will Barras and are hoping to raise more funds to install a new piece of play equipment to replace the ‘Spider’ that had to be removed because it was unsafe.
For many years, the raised flowerbeds outside the Health Centre in Enmore Road were empty and unattractive. In March 2016, NHS Property Services and Croydon Council agreed to allow People for Portland Road to take over the maintenance of the beds facing Enmore Road, and the Portland Road Community Garden was born.
A plan was drawn up and work began with delivery of 20 bulk bags of soil to top up the beds. This was a scary-looking quantity, but lots of local people turned up to help at the ‘Big Dig’ we held one Saturday morning in July, and all the soil was distributed between the beds.
Thanks to a donation from the local council we were able to buy some trees, ferns and shade-loving shrubs. Our volunteers planted these out, along with pansies and geraniums, topped up in October by 400 bulbs to provide spring colour. We also scattered liberally – a little too liberally, it turned out from the amount we had to thin out the following spring – poppy seeds we had saved from the Health Centre bed in Denmark Road.
We are grateful to the Country Park Practice for supplying us with three silver birch trees, and to the health centre colleagues who gave us other seeds. And many of our volunteers have contributed seedlings and plants as well as their valuable time and effort.
The next phase was to draw up a plan to extend the Portland Road Community Garden to the area outside the South Norwood Leisure Centre, where a community noticeboard had already been installed. Croydon Council gave this the go-ahead in March 2017 and we started by installing a stage area and benches, then planting shrubs and barrels of herbs.
‘What is the stage for?’ people often ask. Our answer is usually: ‘Anything you want to use it for.’ We’ve already seen children dancing on it, but there is plenty of scope for other performances.
South Norwood Country Park helped us collect logs to form bug piles, and we have been able to use old coping stones from Blackhorse Road Bridge and kerbstones left over from the building of Oasis Academy Arena School to create features and borders.
This green area has helped to generate community interaction, as well as providing a place for people to relax together. Many residents have given us plants from their allotments and gardens, and in exchange we’ve been able to give them seeds or just a scoop of compost.
We now plan to plant trees in the grassy strip outside the leisure centre and hope to begin work on this in November.
We have created a list of local people interested in helping to maintain garden. If you would like to get involved, please email us or phone 07982 444773.
It is great to see and hear the interest and pleasure that has been created by the garden, which now spans two sides of Enmore Road, and we’ve had some great comments.
‘I just wanted to say a big thank you to whoever built this wonderful little oasis in the middle of South Norwood.’
‘My 3-year-old and I have had a lovely half hour sheltering from the sun on the benches here. It’s fabulous!’
‘Love the new plants and seating area. Well done to all involved, it looks great.’
‘Our daughter likes to use the stage to put on impromptu shows. It’s a nice community spot.’
‘It brightens up my day.’
By lobbying the Council, our Chair, Councillor Paul Scott, has secured some important changes to Croydon’s local planning policies. The shopping parades near the Leisure Centre are to be given protected status, and that area is being recognised as a ‘Neighbourhood Centre’. The shops at the South Norwood town centre end of the road are also to be protected and will be recognised as being an important part of the ‘District Centre’. Parts of Portland Road that are not in the Conservation Area that covers the town centre will be designated as ‘Heritage Areas’. Whilst there will be some new housing built in the area to help respond to the housing crisis affecting the whole of London, South Norwood has been acknowledged as only being able to accommodate a very modest number of new homes. All being well, these will be approved by the end of 2017.
Starting in 2017 ‘The Dip’ or Market Parade area of Portland Road will be transformed by the Council with new street trees and seating, and smart new paving. Hopefully this will support the existing and new businesses in the local area by encouraging the community to spend more time and of course more money there! At the top end of Portland Road, the Council has also supported the setting up of three new pop-up shops in previously empty units. All three have an arts based focus to bring a fresh, new feel to the area. Hopefully they will encourage other businesses into the area too. PPR has successfully bid for funding and support to develop a ‘Community Economic Development Plan’. This will help us to create a proper plan to help bring back to life more of the shops and businesses in the local area.