The future of the Evergreen Field, next to Christchurch Green on Wanstead High Street, is a key debate going on at the moment. Wansteadium reader Roger Estop of the Wanstead Society writes, below, of the society’s bid to shape the debate.
The Evergreen Field in the middle of the High Street by Christchurch is part of Wansteadâ€™s green and open character but remains completely unused. It is private-owned with new development proposals likely.
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 wants to make the land accessible, used and improved by proposing active community use, contributing to the life of Wanstead.
It is paving the way by making a planning application for multi-purpose community activity. We see the best way to defend the space against unsuitable development is to set out a positive vision for its future. We can only 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, improved edges to Christchurch Green and a opening through trees framing the church spire. You can see the application here or on the Redbridge planning webpages – ref 2254/12.
But that is only the first step. We need to back up the planning application with real uses for the field and work out how it would be managed.
So we want to gather diverse proposals for a meadow at the heart of Wanstead High Street. It might be an activity for one day only â€“ we would like to assemble an Evergreen calendar. For example â€“ 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 temporay marquee, which is not so easy in the park – then perhaps there could be an antiques fair on 1 June, a wedding reception on 8 June, and a theatre performance on 15 June. Of course on many days the field will just be open and peaceful, occasionally there could be music.
What would you do here that might not be so easy to do in the park or on the street? We would like to see it become everybodyâ€™s Evergreen.
We know that Wanstead already has good green spaces run by Redbridge Council or Epping Forest and we canâ€™t assume either would maintain the field. So the challenge is to work out how to make the field accessible for the community and how to manage a new use. The more active support there is the stronger our case becomes. More will follow on this.