Monday, 24 March 2008

Trading spaces

Long closed petrol station on Lenton Boulevard.
A possible site for a trade to create more open spaces?

Ilkeston Road entrance to Radford Recreation Ground.
Could new houses overlooking the park be built here?

Radford Recreation Ground path between Ilkeston Road and Sandfield Centre.
With new houses overlooking the park more people would use this path.

Government advisors have recently published a report recommending that no one should live more than 300 metres from communal open space. This is much in line with what park and open space supporters having been saying for ever. As far as I am concerned it's an issue which deserves to make the news every week and during the past few days a local email and blog and set me thinking about how Nottingham might tackle the issue of creating more open spaces whilst getting people to use what open space already exists.

Fiona from the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum sent me an email about a proposed meeting between Nottingham University, the Partnership Council (which covers Radford and Hyson Green) and the Forum to look at creating 'community gardens' and where there might be some spaces to do this. Then, Lillian Greenwood, in her blog about being the Labour Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Nottingham South, mentioned how she went out delivering leaflets in Radford as part of a campaign to use a disused petrol station for housing instead of a Tesco Express store.

Fiona had already got me digging out my copy of the Forum's Community Manifesto from 2001 which talks about creating 'pocket parks' in parts of Dunkirk and Lenton. Fiona also asked me about 'the land next to the church (on) Church Streeet opposite the rec'. The land in question was actually turned into a community managed pocket park in the late-1980s, but over time the volunteers drifted away and its care was taken over by staff at Lenton Recreation Ground. For the past few years it has had the minimal of care and maintenance and has been locked for most of the time. Any ideas which might revive it are to be welcomed. One idea mentioned last year was that it could be taken over by Gurdwara members and turned into an 'Indian Garden'.

Lillian'sa blog set me thinking about the empty petrol station on Lenton Boulevard between the Lenton Business Centre and the Catholic church. It has been empty for years and may well be the one Tesco's want to turn into a mini-supermarket. However, this is just one of a number of empty garage sites in the area and it set me thinking about Radford Recreation Ground, which is only yards away, but hidden from view by houses on three sides. The park is poorly used and despite a lot of money being spent on it still looks a mess. Local residents don't use it because they don't feel safe in such an enclosed park.

One solution to this problem might be to take parts of little used parks like Radford and trade some of the park land for empty petrol station sites (and other empty land) in Radford. In this way more accessible open space could be created in the area and housing which overlooks the park (just like Devonshire Promenade does in the case of Lenton Recreation Ground) could be built which will make Radford Recreation Ground safer and bring it back to life. Most of the houses which back onto the Radford Recreation Ground do not appear to have proper views of the park anyway.

Housing overlooking the park will be much more in demand than housing on Lenton Boulevard. This is a scenario which could be repeated all over Nottingham and would benefit everyone if managed sensitively and with vision. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this idea is getting different city council departments and managers working together.

It's early days, but the idea of the University, the Partnership Council and the Forum working together on a mapping exercise to look at all the empty land in the two wards of Radford and Park and Dunkirk and Lenton plus the existing open spaces and parks might reveal opportunities for 'trading spaces' to the advantage of local residents, newcomers and, dare I say, developers.

A significant overhaul of electoral legislation to give voters a second vote, open polling stations at weekends and make it compulsory to participate is being proposed by the government to increase turnout and improve the legitimacy of the Commons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Trading spaces is an excellent idea. Stefan