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  • Helen Spring, London Wildlife Trust

Delivering for communities through a BIG partnership

In 2014, we set out to bring together a partnership group that could together improve an impermeable and lifeless concrete forecourt at the front of Rosendale Allotments in Herne Hill, South London. The concrete slab acted as a bottleneck, freely passing huge amounts of rainwater runoff from the 18 acre clay allotment site into the surrounding residential roads, an area that has a history of surface water flooding.

Through partnership working we were able to remove all of the concrete and tarmac in the 180m² forecourt and pedestrian pathway, replacing it with a thick layer of recycled hardcore to provide water holding capacity, overlaid with cellular paving made from recycled plastic. This was planted with grass, clover and wildflower bulbs providing an entirely grey to green transformation as well as being functional as the area can now hold back 80 cubic metres of runoff – enough to fill 8,000 baths!

The project was made possible by a group of partners including Lambeth Council, J Coffey, the Rosendale Allotment Association as well as plot holders and local residents; however the key partnership that made such a remarkable transformation possible was our partnership with Mace.

Through involving their expert staff, consultants and contractors in the whole process from design to delivery, we were able to deliver a much more ambitious project that we would have been able to alone by removing all of the concrete rather than just excess areas as originally proposed, and overall delivering the work to an incredibly high standard.

As partners, we were both able to bring our expertise to the project, Mace delivering an excellent flood alleviation scheme that has also maximised net biodiversity gain through using our expertise by adding wildflower rich borders, perennial edges and selecting seed mixes to provide the highest value habitats for urban pollinators, insects and the garden birds that feed on them.

Another key outcome of the partnership was delivering in-depth community engagement, working with plot holders, local residents to deliver a scheme that had full community engagement and support. Through assisting in the design and working closely through delivery, community planting and maintenance, the involvement of local people helped hugely in making the scheme a success in the local area.

We were delighted that the product of this partnership was recognised with the CIRIA BIG Biodiversity Award for community partnership in 2015 and this recognition has helped to put the project on the map. A big thanks to all involved!

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