Green in the Black

IMG_8454Pop-up Christmas tree market on Christchurch Green

Colin Cronin has organised a public meeting with local councillors and Vision RCL to address the issues surrounding the commercial use of Christchurch Green, as highlighted by the recent Christmas tree market

Christchurch Green has long been the centre of Wanstead. From an arboricultural perspective, the green is a jewel that is home to many different species of trees, both indigenous and non-native to these shores. From a social perspective, it really comes into its own as our ‘village green’, a place where many residents will have fond memories of school sports days, picnics with friends, attending the annual Wanstead Festival or just strolling under the canopy of its trees on their way to support businesses on our local High Street.

This jewel requires constant attention and management to ensure it continues to be the place we love and enjoy so much, and that management comes at a financial cost.

Vision RCL is the social enterprise that has been tasked with managing many of the green spaces in Redbridge, including Christchurch Green, and to meet the costs of maintaining this space has embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at increasing revenue.

In August 2021, Vision announced excitedly that they had been granted planning permission to provide a “new sustainable café kiosk” despite a large number of objections from local residents. Then, in late November, it was Vision who dreamed up a Christmas tree selling gimmick on the green, again designed to increase revenue.

Both of these initiatives have been developed and implemented without any consultation with or concern for local residents’ views or the impact they might potentially have on rate-paying businesses on our High Street. Indeed, so ill-conceived was the pop-up Christmas tree market idea that local traders were subsequently approached by Vision asking if they could sell their surplus Christmas trees at other green spaces in Redbridge.

Whilst we all appreciate that costs need to be met for the maintenance of our green, Vision needs to rethink their approach as to how they go about working with local residents and the businesses of Wanstead going forward to ensure all members of the community can have their say and be heard.

We will therefore look to host a public meeting with our local councillors and Vision representatives to hear their plans and aspirations for Christchurch Green for the future, how we as local residents can be included in those conversations and how we can all work together to ensure the mistakes of last month are not repeated.

The public meeting will take place on 5 March from 2pm at Christ Church, Wanstead.