Fears Hackney Council might “backslide” on Mabley Green edible park promises
PUBLISHED: 09:01 11 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:01 11 May 2015
Green-fingered community volunteers are frustrated a date has still not been set to create their edible park and are worried the council might “backslide” on funding promises.
Work was due to start on the park in Mabley Green last November but now the council has said it hopes it will get underway by the autumn.
The Mabley Green Users Group (MGUG) had hoped to use a grant bequeathed to Hackney Council to turn the “vast, empty, boring space” there into the largest edible park in the world.
But last July, when planning permission was granted, councillors also approved the construction of a second commercial fenced-off all-weather football pitch on the Common Land which is supposed to be protected for everyone’s use. The current pitch costs over £140 an hour to hire.
Both pitches will occupy a quarter of the park, meaning the edible park will be smaller than hoped.
Damian Rafferty, chairman of MGUG, is worried the council could cut back on the money earmarked for the park because of an estimated £145,000 overrun in building the football pitch, initially priced at £500,000.
Despite asking for reassurance this will not be the case, none has been given.
A council spokesman said delays are caused by further soil testing at the site of the new football pitch, the scope of which is taking “longer that anticipated to agree”. She added: “We are committed to delivering all elements of the scheme.”
Mr Rafferty said: “I’m very frustrated, we were expecting all sorts of commitments to funding and provision which now seem doubtful. Everyone knew that Mabley Green is contaminated with Blitz rubble, a contaminated report was issued months ago.
“In order to do something like this you have to gear up the community, if you gear them up and it doesn’t happen you waste social capital and frankly its exhausting.
“In short, after years of hard work from the community and the bitterly felt loss of common land, we are faced with seeing little more than a mildly toxic pile of dirt for our efforts.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.