Don’t touch our garden, neighbours warn developer

Residents at Nataniel Court Estate want to protect their community garden.

Residents at Nataniel Court Estate want to protect their community garden. - Credit: Holly Chant

For almost a decade, Nathaniel Court residents have put up with “unbelievable noise” and dust caused by the largest single-site estate regeneration project in Europe being built in their backyard – but they refuse to back down when it comes to protecting the community garden they’ve built together.

Some of the vegetables, herbs, flowers and plants grown in Nathaniel Court's community garden.

Some of the vegetables, herbs, flowers and plants grown in Nathaniel Court's community garden. - Credit: Holly Chant

They describe their community garden, near Woodberry Down, as a "sanctuary" in a concrete jungle, and grow herbs, vegetables and all sorts of plants there. They share the produce they grow and cook communal meals for each other.

Beverley Morris, who lives on the estate, told the Gazette: "This is our community garden. We put a lot of work into [it] - and it hasn't come cheap. [It cost us] £4,000, plus many of the plants we've bought ourselves."

Berkeley Homes, the developer managing the regeneration of Woodberry Down, is already planning to replace the Victorian wall that protects the garden and separates their estate from the building site, though it has agreed to use "reclaimed bricks" where possible. But the gardeners want to keep an old siren and gate from the war, and protect a few decades-old trees from being removed.

A Berkeley spokesperson said: "We have a party wall agreement with the landlord of Nathaniel Court to remove the wall and replace it with a close board fence. Following a meeting this week with residents and council representatives we have agreed to replace the wall using reclaimed bricks where possible subject to the landlord's agreement, and also structural calculations for its reinstatement.

The Victorian wall separating the estate from the building site

The Victorian wall separating the estate from the building site - Credit: Holly Chant


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"As a gesture of goodwill we have agreed to clean the windows of Nathaniel Court, and will ensure we are in regular contact to communicate updates with the development."

The garden attracts wildlife such as foxes, squirrels and birds like magpies, wrens, blackbirds, blue tits and robins.

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"It's the environment, the sustainability and the wildlife we care about and we have a lot of wildlife in this little stretch," said one tenant.

"We're on the flight path from the reservoir - they come and rest here before they go off again."

The gating that was put up after part of the estate's Victorian wall fell down.

The gating that was put up after part of the estate's Victorian wall fell down. - Credit: Holly Chant

Part of the wall separating the construction site from Nathaniel Court fell down recently after a storm so builders placed metal gating across the space where it once stood. They managed to kill a rosehip bush in the process.

Construction at Woodberry Down began 10 years ago and the site runs six or sometimes even seven days a week.

The council told the Gazette all construction near Nathaniel Court is due to be completed next year.

"At Woodberry Down, we're building around 5,500 much-needed new homes, including thousands for genuinely affordable social rent and shared ownership, alongside stunning new public facilities like the Woodberry Wetlands," said mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville.

A resident points Nathaniel Court on a scale model of the regeneration project.

A resident points Nathaniel Court on a scale model of the regeneration project. - Credit: Holly Chant

"We're doing everything we can to minimise disruption to local people, but construction at this scale will always cause challenges, and we're committed to listening and responding to residents."

Neighbours are also alarmed by trucks from the build parking on double yellow lines along Green Lanes where the estate entrance is - and the dangers they pose to pedestrians and drivers.

The lorries frequently use a temporary builder's yard in front of Nathaniel Court that, according to the council, has not yet received planning permission after an application was withdrawn earlier this year. The council's planning enforcement team has launched an investigation.

Beverley told the Gazette: "You can get four lorries parked along [Green Lanes] plus, if a bus stops, you really cannot see.

Scale model of massive project to regenerate Woodbury Down estate.

Scale model of massive project to regenerate Woodbury Down estate. - Credit: Holly Chant

"They think that because they have been given permission to build it's carte blanche and they can do whatever they want."

Nathaniel Court residents stand in front of their vegetable beds and the Woodbury Down construction

Nathaniel Court residents stand in front of their vegetable beds and the Woodbury Down construction site. - Credit: Holly Chant

Residents at Nataniel Court Estate want to protect their community garden.

Residents at Nataniel Court Estate want to protect their community garden. - Credit: Holly Chant

Residents at Nataniel Court Estate want to protect their community garden.

Residents at Nataniel Court Estate want to protect their community garden. - Credit: Holly Chant

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