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Public Space Benefits – Planning Proposals for a Public Garden

A desirable and attractive public garden for all residents of the St.Vincent Crescent

Over the last seven months the recognition of the value and benefit to us of open space and access to nature has dramatically increased.  There are many reports and statistics which support this claim, and it is a well-known positive consequence of the COVID lockdown.  Our desire to see and witness nature has been demonstrated by, for example, The Wildlife Trust reporting a 2000% increase in the public signing up for access to their nature webcams across the country and in a Natural England survey during lockdown, eight out of 10 adults agreed that “being in nature makes me very happy”. Mind the charity providing support and advice on mental health suggest that nurturing something else into life will help wellbeing, gently caring for something helps one to learn to care for oneself.  It is therefore of huge value and health benefit for the residents of St.Vincent Crescent to have the opportunity to enjoy a new public garden space right on their doorstep.  Everyone should have access from their homes to safe, useable and attractive open space, this can be a mix of private secure gardens, and public streets, parks and gardens.  The proposed development on St.Vincent Crescent, Glasgow, currently under planning consideration, offers both public and private garden spaces.

The public garden to the north of the development proposals provide a quality, attractive and safe place to gather, be active, be passive, to converse and offer opportunities for chance incidental meetings.  The Garden is a contemporary and relevant interpretation of the Glasgow communal residential garden, defined by hedges and accessible from the street, providing a peaceful haven from the cars and bustle of the street.  Hard landscape spaces are provided for formal seating and small-scale gatherings for BBQs and community events, while the grass open spaces encourage sunbathing and more active recreation during the summer months.

The spaces are flexible to adapt to community requirements and uses through time, which in turn help to generate a sense of ownership and stewardship.  For example, the grass swathes through the space could be transferred to production gardening if there was a desire, meanwhile the structure of the Garden is strong enough to adapt and accommodate these transitory changes in use.  Fruit trees are proposed for an element of productivity.  A variety of spaces in scale and form are created to encourage varied use for different age groups and abilities.

Swathes of herbaceous and decorative grasses run through the Garden their geometry informed by the Crescent’s curves and straights, these ribbons of planting provide a unifying element in the Garden. These swathes are predominantly native species and are varied in texture, colour, and seasonal change, all of which help to greatly increase the biodiversity and ecological habitat value of the site.  The species will attract birds, bees and butterflies, all target species which are promoted by the Local Biodiversity Action Plan.

The proposed tree planting responds to the scale of the Garden and the proposed buildings.  The clear stem trees provide a comfortable scale and screen from overlooking residents both north, south, and west, while their clear stems allow eye level clear sightlines.  To encourage local food production a number of fruit trees have been introduced which will provide plums, damsons and apples.  These are Espalier form to enhance the definition of space between the hard landscape upper garden and the softer lower lawn garden.  The third selection of trees is a group of smaller multi-stemmed trees to the east of the Garden.  The trees have been selected to provide an attractive screen between the street and the Garden.  The variety of species include those which are known for their attractive bark, leaf form, autumn colour or spring blossom.

To encourage residents to use the spaces and to nurture a sense of ownership and stewardship, the design of the Garden is such that it is attractive and accessible for all residents of the Crescent.  The upper garden is laid out in hard landscape with paved and gravel spaces to encourage small community gatherings and informal games of Boules for example on the self-bound gravel surfaces.  The planting beds and fruiting trees are proposed to provide structure and form to the garden but also to encourage an element of production, harvesting the fruit and making jams and preserves.  The planting beds can be populated and planted up by residents if they wish.  A small oasis and place of sanctuary, the public garden on St.Vincent Crescent will become one of those urban oases where your tired eyes are refreshed, where the air pollution drops, where you feel the stress fall away, and where you may suddenly hear a bird sing.  Benefits that we all crave, to improve our mental and physical wellbeing.

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