As the 1st of March quickly approaches and we prepare to get growing, we thought we'd take a look at the story so far.
History of the site
The Wharfside Community Gardens site occupies the former Brownhills Treatment works in Lichfield. The site was operated by Lichfield Rural District Council in conjunction with the adjacent sand quarries, now home to the "Sandies Mountain Bike Park". The site was later released to Severn Trent Plc who operated the site for a number of years before ceasing water treatment sometime around 1960.
From around 1960-2000, the site was reclaimed by nature, and later bulldozed flat as part of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road Project. The only remnants of its former life being a lone warning sign and driveway apron at the entrance to the site.
The site has been stripped of its water treatment infrastructure, leaving only the culvert headwork and concrete access track.
The surrounding land has been designated by Natural England as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and forms part of the Cannock Chase Heathland which is the largest lowland heath in the Midlands. It is a site of international importance, in particular, for the mining bee and is currently receiving substantial improvement and investment from Lichfield District Council. The Local Authorities works aim to open up the site and improve the natural heathland flora.
Whilst the Community Garden site isn't within the bounds of the SSSI we aim to promote sustainable gardening with a view to garnering a long term positive impact on the adjacent site.
The site was acquired at auction in 2018 by the Sewell Hammonds Group, a property acquisition and management company based in the Northwest. The site was initially held for speculation, however a series of incidents involving the unauthorised incursion onto site and wide scale criminal damage, led the owners to explore other options.
One option that attracted a significant degree of local support was the provision of allotments or community gardens at the site. The idea was first discusses soon after purchasing the site, but was only really decided upon after a second unauthorised attempt to take-over the site.
And here we are...
And that's a brief run down of the story so far...
The site, originally farmland will have come full circle, from the production of food for agriculture, through light utility use and ultimately back into use as productive growing land for the community.
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