Landscaping for Alexandria’s New Housing Development

In preparation of opening a new housing development on Alexandria, CLS worked with the Leven group and Dunbritton Housing Association to transform two unsightly play areas into beautifully landscaped spaces for the local residents to enjoy.

Background

Leven Action Group was originally set up from within the local community to object to Dunbritton Housing Association’s proposed new development in Leven Street. One of the main reasons for their objection was the loss of informal plays space that would result. However, when planning permission for the development was finally granted, rather than disband, this dynamic group agreed that they would like to remain a positive force within the community and develop projects to benefit the quality of life for both existing and incoming residents. They changed their name to the Leven Group and gained charitable status. Dunbritton Housing Association agreed to support the Leven Group in their aims as much as possible and accordingly, put them in touch with Community Links Scotland (CLS) in the hope that we could assist the group to develop projects of benefit to the wider community.

Moving Forward

Community Links Scotland held workshops and walkabouts with the Leven Group to identify a list of potential projects and, after discussion, priority was given to the removal of two ugly concrete former play areas and their replacement with soft landscaping. A local consultation questionnaire was sent out; the results confirmed residents’ wish to see colourful planting, small flowering trees and spring bulbs but no seating or other ornamentation. CLS staff prepared design layouts and planting plans and helped the Leven Group to secure £3,900 from Big Lottery Awards for All towards the cost of materials including topsoil, turf and shrubs. The project was then included in Environmental Solutions, a Dunbritton Housing Association lead project which aims to give people valuable work experience and basic skills training whilst improving the local environment in consultation with local communities. Environmental Solutions (which incorporated other sites in the area) was largely funded through Scottish Government Wider Role and approximately £14,200 was secured from this source to support the labour and supervision costs on this particular site. Additionally, DHA contractor Crudens paid for the downtaking and removal of the former play areas which was organised by the West Dunbartonshire Council. Argyll and Bute Employability Team (who also cover West Dunbartonshire) were appointed to carry out the landscaping of the two sites.

Problems and Partnership

Legal delays, subcontractor problems, prolonged bad weather and soil quality issues caused teething problems for site works but with patience, persistence and persuasion all partners (Dunbritton Housing Association, West Dunbartonshire Council, the Leven Group, Community Links Scotland, the Employability Team and Crudens) worked very hard to overcome these setbacks. The project was successfully completed in April 2012 and transformed two ugly, potentially dangerous communal spaces into well received, attractive landscaped areas with feature planting, small flowering trees and a new access path.

On a sunny day in May, a well attended community celebration was organised for local residents. The event was coordinated by a Community Links Scotland work placement student Robert Findlay, as part of his training for his HNC in Working with Communities; another Dunbritton Housing Association initiative in partnership with Clydebank College. Robert successfully arranged for refreshments, tombola, formal planting ceremony and a local press photo. James Hunter of the Leven Group made a short speech thanking everyone who had made the project happen and the Employability Team was praised for the really high quality of their work.

 

Filed Under: Community Landscaping

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