Community spirit in spades – estate residents dig deep for new playspace

More than 18 months of fundraising, planning and digging to create a new natural play space for the Morland Estate in London Fields is coming to fruition as 75 community members joined together to plant 300 trees in advance of the garden’s grand opening this spring.

Children from the German Kindergarten, based in the Morland Community Hall, joined estate residents to plant tree sprouts, hedgerows and six spectacular white Himalayan birches, with supervision from the Council’s arboricultural experts.

They complement the new rope bridge, slide, balance beam and seating area as part of a resident-led project to turn underused space into a green, sustainable and well-used activity area for the local community – including the more than 100 children living on the estate.

The Morland Estate and Blanchard Way Tenants and Residents Association worked with the Council to secure £50,000 in funding to deliver the project, with backing given from the London Marathon Charitable Trust, Greater London Authority, National Lottery, Woodland Trust, Hackney Parochial Charities and the German Kindergarten. The family of Len Brown – a longstanding Morland Estate resident who sadly passed away recently – also donated to the cause.

Since then, the Council and residents have worked together to deliver the change, from gathering support from across the estate for the project to getting teams in to install the new equipment.

Julian Blake, Chair of the Morland Estate and Blanchard Way TRA
The Morland Natural Play Space is the culmination of months of planning by residents, working with officers from across Hackney Council and our various funders.

Helping put some of the finishing touches was not just great fun for everyone involved – it was a clear demonstration of what can be done when residents and the Council work together for positive and lasting change.
Julian Blake, Chair of the Morland Estate and Blanchard Way TRA
Cllr Clayeon McKenzie, Cabinet Member for Housing Services
We’re investing in Hackney’s homes across the borough to make them better, greener and safer places to live. But nobody knows our estates better than the residents themselves, and projects like this show that some of the biggest changes come from local people seeing opportunities to improve where they live and having the drive to make it happen.

The new natural play space will make a huge difference to the Morland Estate, and I’d like to thank all those who volunteered so much time and energy to the project - especially in securing the funding needed to deliver it. Their hard work is a big inspiration to residents in Council homes across the borough. If you’ve got ideas for your estate, we’d love to work with you to bring them to life.
Cllr Clayeon McKenzie, Cabinet Member for Housing Services

The Morland Natural Play space will be officially opened at a ceremony on Friday 3 April (3.30-7.30pm) outside the Morland Estate Community Hall on Gayhurst Road.

If you want to set up a new resident group on your estate, have ideas to improve your estate or want to help hold the Council to account, there are loads of ways for Council tenants and homeowners to get involved.