Rundown garages transformed into community garden

Claire Hutchinson from Groundwork North East opens the Urban Greenspace Project in St Margaret's Avenue in Castletown with the help of pupils from Castleview Enterprise Academy.
Claire Hutchinson from Groundwork North East opens the Urban Greenspace Project in St Margaret's Avenue in Castletown with the help of pupils from Castleview Enterprise Academy.
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A COMMUNITY garden built on the site of a former derelict eyesore has been officially opened.

Residents came together to mark the completion of the Castletown Environmental Improvements Programme, at St Margaret’s Avenue, Sunderland.

The three-year project, managed by Groundwork and funded by the Community Spaces programme, included the demolition of rundown garages, which had been targeted by vandals.

Large paved areas were also removed and replaced with trees, shrubs and grassed areas.

Claire Hutchinson, senior project officer at Groundwork, said because the location had originally been classed as “adopted highway”, staff had to be given the legal go-ahead before work could start.

“The project has been the culmination of the ideas and hard work of local people for many years,” she said.

“In 2009, Groundwork became involved and managed to draw a variety of partners and funders round the table, to see the residents’ visions through to completion.

“We are really grateful to all who supported the scheme.

“It has been a long process but we are all very happy with the results.”

The development has also been praised by residents, who have endured years of antisocial behaviour at the site.

“The residents would like to thank everyone involved in the project and for making it a great success,” said householder Jimmy Burnicle.

“We believe the project will enhance the quality of life for all the residents living in the area, and provide a safer place for the young children playing on the adjacent park.”

The scheme was also supported by the Big Lottery Fund, Castletown Neighbourhood Action Group, Gentoo and city councillors Steve Foster and Denny Wilson.

Coun Wilson said: “I want to thank all those involved in bringing this project to completion.

“The project is a great example in everyone working together to design out antisocial behaviour, by landscaping an area that was a community liability into a community asset that should enhance the quality of life for residents living there, and users of the adjacent park.”

As well as a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the opening event also saw youngsters from Castle View Enterprise Academy take part in a scavenger hunt.

For more information about the regeneration scheme, or up-and-coming community events, call 567 2550.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho