Some of the team who are working to create a community garden in Keld Close, near the old fire station off Framfield Road, Uckfield.

Neglected Uckfield site to be transformed into community garden

A neglected corner of land in Keld Close, Uckfield, is to be transformed into a garden that can be enjoyed by residents and passers-by.

Everybody living in the close is behind the community project which will receive initial funding from Wealden District Council but then be managed and maintained by residents.

“The ladies are champing at the bit to get planting,” said Peter Dann, who is the Keld Close representative on the New Town Action Group. But first the land has to be cleared of old tyres, old shed, piles of wood, and some badly planted trees.

A hedge fronting Keld Close will be cut down to four feet, an access created in one corner and the rest of the area properly fenced.

There will be a wheelchair path, seats and possibly raised flower beds. Part of the garden will be uncultivated, with wild flowers allowed to flourish, so that a wildlife corridor is maintained.

It’s unlikely any money will need to be spent on plants and shrubs because residents plan to take cuttings from their own gardens.

A key player in the project will be Betty Fairbrass who already looks after many gardens in the close. “I enjoy doing it. I just like gardens, flowers and nature,” she said.

Christine Wickham said Keld Close was known for its hollyhocks and it was hoped that people who came along and admired them would also be able to take a break in the new community garden.

Mr Dann said the triangular piece of land was given to the community in 1938 and residents grew flowers and chopped and stored wood there. Then in the 1990s it fell into disuse and Wealden Council leased it as a garden to the owner of Watch Cottage, which used to be part of the neighbouring old fire station.

When the house was sold a year ago the new owner was happy for it to revert to the community and so planning began to transform the land.

An application for a grant to clear the site will be submitted in June and it is hoped that clearance work can be finished by October, though the hedges and trees can’t be touched until August because of regulations relating to bird nesting.

In the autumn another grant application will be submitted to cover the costs of paving and seats and possibly raised beds.

There are 12 council and eight private homes in Keld Close but all are supporting this project to attract a Community Environment Grant which will pay for the work.

Some of those guiding the project are pictured above. From the left are: Ray Hazelden, Betty Fairbrass, Peter Kirwin (a Keld Close resident for 56 years), Christine Wickham (a resident for 46 years), Pat Singleton (a resident for 25 years) and Peter Dann (a resident for 28 years).

Click on one of the pictures to scroll through them all.

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