On Wednesday 27th Aug 2018, Lewisham Council were expecting to take possession of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford. But around 50 local volunteers had occupied this much-loved oasis, building tree houses, devising lock-ons, and setting up camp among the 74 mature trees that the council wants to cut down for a housing development.
The occupiers are hoping that a judicial review of the council’s actions may yet save the garden, but after more than three years of campaigning and engagement with the democratic process they are taking no chances and so have taken to direct action as well.
The area has been a hub for community events, a safe space for children to play and discover nature, and a community garden for composting and growing food.
Researchers from Goldsmiths have also shown, through data provided by around 30 local residents who agreed to host the project’s special ‘dustboxes’, that the trees provide a huge mitigating effect to the toxic levels of air pollution in the area.
The council’s housing proposal is linked to the demolition of nearby Reginald House, a block which has been left in managed decline. Despite both the London Mayor’s and Lewisham Council’s promises to ballot residents over developments, people in Reginald House have had no such say.
Old Tidemill was actually featured as a case study in Sadiq Khan’s recently published ‘Greener City Fund’ strategy, as an example of best practice.
Unfortunately, this type of story is being repeated all over London and other cities, often by fully Labour councils such as Lewisham, but grassroots actions can sometimes succeed where politicians are failing.
Campaigners at Tidemill need support – perhaps a visit with food or drink, or a promise to stay for a couple of hours (or a month!), or a donation to the crowdjustice fund towards the judicial review.
Find out more on their f***book page (@savetidemill) or for more background take a look at crossfield.blogspot.com. You can donate at crowdjustice.com/cases/save-reginald-save-tidemill