The project in Becontree has now come to a close with almost all the snags completed…minus a couple of wooden bollards that are still needed.
We’ve had great coverage on the project from lots of residents, local press, community stakeholders and Roding Primary School on Cannington Road. It’s funny to look back at the three areas now the works are largely complete and think about all the events, residents and community action that has taken us on this journey.
Many people in the area have already forgotten what the three areas looked like before the changes – this is normal (!) as humans we adapt and get used to our immediate surroundings very quickly.
But even though this is the end of Sustrans (and my) major involvement in the area it’s really only the start of a larger and more important goal. All these changes have been about trying to make it easier for people to walk and cycle to school, to local shops, to the station, to the parks. Trying to make it easier for people to choose active travel for the way to get around their local area and to empower them that they can have a real, active role in local decision making affecting their own environment. The colourful bollards designed by children from Roding Primary aim to make the street more of a welcoming and fun place, there’s more seating for people to sit down on and easier crossing to both Parsloe’s Park, to school and to the shops at Porters Avenue. There’s less dog poo on the street too, according to local resident Terry and everyone is shocked to see that the Flamingo’s painted on the shutters haven’t been vandalised yet – a daily reminder that perhaps the area isn’t too bad??!
All those who have been involved at all the different stages of the project – I hope you’ve felt like you’ve genuinely been listened to and had a chance to have your say. Feeling empowered to take action in your neighbourhood can sometimes be a frightening thought which requires lots of confidence and ability to dream beyond the many barriers that might be in the way of change. But what we’re trying to do is to send the message to everyone that these are your streets for the taking. Your parks, your spaces, your bollards, your neighbourhood, your places and the best results come from working together as residents to improve things that need improving.
Way back at the beginning of the project residents talked to me about feeling like the neighbourhood desperately needed more focal points, places to socialise, to sit down, more pride and identity. People wanted places to come together and meet each other – interact and build trust. Some of the most amazing results in this project have come from residents willing to take a leap of faith – to build some planters and benches to improve the public space outside their shop, to give time to do some gardening in a public planter or come and have their say at one of the many events.
Here are some of the things that residents have told us about the changes:
We’ll be posting the results of the speed counts that took place after the work had finished at all three areas but in the mean time here are some pictures to show the changes to date. If you have any questions or want to take part in your local residents group or local neighbourhood watch scheme please do get in touch (my details are on the contact page). Many thanks, Phillippa.