Tropical Tottenham ?
Image by Alan Stanton
Houghton Road N15 off West Green Road. A project aiming to improve what was a dead-end street. The previous road and pavement has been replaced with a public open space, resurfaced, and has raised flowerbeds.
Unfortunately Haringey Council seems to have grossly oversold the idea.
On 14 November 2013 a local free newspaper Tottenham and Wood Green Journal had the headline Boris stumps up £30,000 for ‘tropical park’ to transform rundown urban corner of Tottenham.
The article described the planned project as "a lush oasis", and "a mini-park". It was illustrated by a photo inside a greenhouse in Kew Gardens. An absurd comparison, from someone’s overheated imagination. Dreams of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?
In November 2014 Haringey sent Press Releases to the local free newspapers with "artists impressions" which had minimal resemblance to the reality of the attractive but modest and small-scale outcome.
The story in Tottenham & Wood Green Journal on 28 November 2014 was headlined: "Tropical ‘pocket park’ for Tottenham’s West Green Road moves closer to reality. It described the project as: "a ‘tropically inspired’ pocket-park. And "The first glimpses of a new tropical oasis".
Cllr Alan Strickland, Haringey’s "cabinet" councillor for regeneration also described the scheme as "a small oasis". (Echoing other people’s vacuous phrases is something Cllr Strickland often does.)
Residents were invited to volunteer as part of the “West Green Road Tropical Park Team”.
Any Gardner Knows?
As any gardner knows, a central issue for any flower beds – whether raised or at ground level – is ongoing and consistent maintenance. Which for public spaces, includes removal of any litter and dumping.
Over the years I’ve photographed and complained about inadequate maintenance of flowerbeds and planters in Tottenham. In at least two examples, Haringey-owned planters were eventually removed. In other words, our Council gave up trying to keep them looking nice.
Meanwhile, over in the rich western parts of the borough there seems to be a different story.
And as any park designer knows who has read Jane Jacobs, although parks are usually seen as a boon to people who live nearby, in practice the opposite is often true.
§ Google Streetview ● September 2009. ● July 2012. ● May 2015.
§ 21 October 2014: Peek at Tottenham’s touch of the tropics. Source: Haringey Council website.
§ 27 March 2015: Pocket park to put the green into West Green Road. Source: Haringey Council website.
§ West Green Road Tropical Park. Plan, planting details and rationale. Source: Haringey website.
§ The scheme is credited to: ●Tom Ebdon Architects-designers-makers-thinkers;
● Blacksheepscape studio
§ "Tom Ebdon Architects, working with MAKE-ROOM have been commissioned by London Borough of Haringey to design and deliver a range of crucial improvement interventions to West Green Road in Tottenham, North London. The proposals range from developing a public arts strategy to creating new public realm space and improving the existing streetscape. The work is on-going, with the first of the projects due to be delivered in the spring of 2014."
From the website of Cargo Collective/ Tom Ebdon Architects. [Accessed 8 May 2017.]
§ Official Haringey Council publicity video on YouTube. [Begins 42 seconds in.]
§ Link to page on Haringey Council website, dated 9 June 2015. "Celebration marks opening of Tottenham’s tropical oasis".
§ Website of Make-Room. It describes the project as "a new urban park". "The Tropical Pocket Park acts as an oasis providing a place to relax and unwind, engage with nature, gather and play, spend time with family and friends, learn about plants and participate in food growing schemes."
The website says that: "Make-Room invites a range of artists, designers, architects and educators to collaborate on projects." Also that: "Make-Room is run by Megan Beck. […] an artist and designer and a teacher in the Post-compulsory and Adult and Community sectors."
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