The Evergreen Field has been part ofWanstead’s green and open character for about 50 years, ever since the original buildings were demolished. But the field remains completely unused. After development proposals were rejected in 1998, Redbridge planning policy now protects the open land. But the various owners have never brought it into use or maintained it.
The Wanstead Society recognises that many Wanstead people want to keep the land green but believes this should be achieved by making the land accessible, used and improved. Active community use would contribute to the life of Wanstead.
It is therefore applying for planning permission to make the field a multi-purpose space for community activity. We can make an application even though we don’t own the land. We see the best way to defend the space against unsuitable development is to set out a positive vision for its future. We can do that with a real alternative use established by planning permission.
The planning application proposes a circular meadow surrounded by woodland, with new access points and improved edges to Christchurch Green and an opening through trees framing the church spire. You can see the application here, do write a note of support on the council’s website – ref 2254/12.
How should the land be used for the benefit of Wanstead?
Our planning application is only the first step. We need to back that up with a detailed plan setting out how it would be used and managed. This has to be based on a range of clear-cut, practical activities for the field. We have to bear in mind that Redbridge Council and Epping Forest already look after good green spaces in Wanstead and we can’t assume either would maintain the field. We need a strong strategy to claim it for the community – and we need suggestions for how the space could be used in imaginative and economically viable ways.
The Evergreen calendar of activity
So what activity can you suggest for Everbody’s Evergreen? It might be something for one day only we would like ideas covering 365 days to assemble an Evergreen calendar.
For example – could a school do Maypole dancing on 1 May? Could one of the churches have an outdoor harvest festival service on 1 Sept? Could we have a snowcrowd on 1 Jan? It is a good place for a temporary marquee which is not so easy in the park. Then there could be an antiques fair on 1 June, a wedding reception on 8 June, and a theatre performance on 15 June.
And many other days the field will be an alternative peaceful destination next to Christchurch Green.
What would you do that might not be so easy to do in the park or on the street?
The tricky next step
The third step is to work out how to manage the field as an accessible public facility. The land remains in private ownership and we don’t have any control of it. We therefore need a clear strategy to help negotiate a secure future for the field.