HS2 Community Environment Fund logo

Awarded: £73,591

Region: Greater London

Castlehaven Community Association is a registered charity located in Camden, London.

The project has increased the local community’s environmental awareness and supported local residents to become involved in making a real change where they live. They have created a green refuge by planting trees, shrubs and plants to act as a living screen around their community park to lessen noise and absorb pollution. Wooden amphitheatres, seating and a pergola structure have been installed to create an outdoor classroom for children from local schools that have limited external space to be able to deliver outdoor learning. They have also installed raised beds that are accessible to the elderly and those with disabilities and residents in the local community have been offered growing space. Additionally, they have put on a wide variety of workshops, activities and social events.

A calm and quiet place to visit

The project has increased access to green space for the surrounding communities and provided a calm and quiet place to visit for those living in areas impacted by the HS2 construction. Activities were delivered at their Horticulture Hub and in the new growing space at their community park. These included vegetable growing classes, natural arts and crafts workshops, wellbeing workshops, family nature sessions and cookery classes. They helped engage people with the project and helped to create a family-friendly atmosphere. They also taught people within the local community to grow their own vegetables, houseplants and flowering plants. These are skills which many have taken home with them and used to improve their local environments and increase the green footprint of their homes.

The project has also provided new opportunities for volunteering and over 450 new volunteers have been involved. They provided weekly ‘Get Fit, Get Active, Get Gardening’ volunteering sessions which brought people from a wide variety of different backgrounds together, engaging in growing vegetables, digging new beds, planting perennials and improving their local communities together.

Biodiversity enhancements

The biodiversity of the area has also been enhanced through the range of plants, trees and flowers that have been introduced locally and by creating habitats, such as insect hotels and bird boxes. The living wall that was planted around the community park included over 30 climbers and has covered a long metal fence, turning it into a natural oasis for birds and insects. They have also created an annual and perennial wildflower meadow, which has attracted more pollinators to the parks, and they grew a wide variety of flowering plants from seed each year, including nasturtiums, foxgloves, wallflowers, snap dragons and marigolds. This has helped to attract and provide food for pollinators, increasing local populations.

“We applied for the HS2 grant in order to make our community parks healthier, more sustainable and safer for the local community. Prior to the HS2 grant we were experiencing lots of anti-social behaviour in our parks, particularly with drug use and rough sleeping.

“Thanks to the HS2 funding, we were able to re-landscape part of our park and turn it into a family-friendly area with more food growing space for local residents. The HS2 grant meant that we were also able to run workshops and activities for adults and families in our Horticulture Hub space, which had recently been built.

“The HS2 money enabled us to turn the Hub into a thriving community resource, with classes, a fruit and vegetable shop, family activities and a plant shop. Thanks to the HS2 grant, our parks are now much safer with reduced levels of anti-social behaviour. We have also been able to introduce a thriving wildflower area, and a lot more planting around other areas of the parks too.”

Castlehaven Community Association