A DISUSED plot of land in south Reading will become a community garden.

The land, at the back of The Lawns on Windermere Road, has been let out by Reading Borough Council (RBC) to charity World Education Berkshire, for the Food4Families Reading project – on a five-year lease.

The garden will include an accessible area for growing communal herbs, fruit and vegetables, as well as a wildlife sanctuary.

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It will also be a safe green space for local families and individuals to explore and experience nature and aims to encourage community cohesion.

World Education Berkshire, also known as the Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC), already runs seven community gardens as part of the horticultural project, including three leased from the council.

Last year, RISC celebrated ten years at its Lavender Place community garden next to The Hexagon.

What is the site of new community space?
The 0.1 hectares of unused grassed land is surrounded by residential homes and has a single pedestrian access point which leads to The Lawns and Staverton Road.

RBC has let the property out on a short-term lease until the property is required for redevelopment.

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The land will be let out at a peppercorn rate – a small nominal fee – as the cost of running a community garden is greater than the revenue that can be generated.

RBC or World Education Berkshire may end the lease at any time outside of the growing season of March to October by giving at least six months’ notice in writing.

The council will also have the right to end the lease if the scheme fails.

Who is behind the project?

World Education Centre, known locally as RISC, is hosting the project but the site will managed by local residents and volunteers with support from Food4Families and the Whitley Community Development Association.

Anyone who wants to get involved in the development of the project can contact Sharon Fitton at sharon@risc.org.uk

How did it get council backing?

Food4families was approached by local residents in 2019 for help to turn the unused council-owned land into a community garden with a therapeutic and educational focus.

Interested parties had until midday on January 2, 2020, to submit their offers.
The land was advertised for let on the RBC website and in the Reading Voluntary Action (RVA) newsletter, and two offers were received.

The community garden proposal was approved by the executive director for economic growth & neighbourhood services in consultation with the leader of the council, the lead member for Housing, the assistant director of finance and local ward councillors.