Brighton guerilla gardeners break back into community green

Guerilla gardeners have broken back into the community green they created after it was chained off by a security firm.

For the past month residents around Lewes Road, Brighton, have been enjoying the recreation space they carefully installed on the derelict site of a demolished Esso petrol station at the corner of Edinburgh Road.

They cleared rubble, laid a circular lawn, brought in benches, flower pots, sculptures and other decorations and planted flowers and shrubs into eyesore concrete blocks.

The site had previously been disused for five years but since it was spruced up during a series of "guerilla gardening days" it has been well used by residents.

They have taken responsibility for locking it each night and opening it in the morning.

Their activities had gone unchecked by the site's owners until Tuesday, when they arrived to discover a security firm had chained up the access gate and installed a warning sign to deter intruders.

Duncan Blinkhorn, a spokesman for the group behind the "Lewes Road Community Garden", yesterday said: "The gardeners were not so easily defeated and immediately set about lifting the gate off its hinges to allow continued access to the site."

The group also launched a petition which has been signed by more than 1,500 residents in two days.

It called for support to help keep the garden open and continue the good example of the community working together to beautify the area and create a facility from a derelict site.

King Sturge, the London-based property group acting on behalf of the site's owners, yesterday said the relevant member of staff was unavailable so it could not comment on why the gates had been chained or what it intended to do in future.

Gabriel Wulff, one of the garden organisers, said: "The point is we are not doing anything harmful to anyone. We are just providing a space for people to come together. We don't know what they meant by locking the site. We are not squatters, we are just using the site while it is available and will be happy to move it all if it is needed for use again."

Members of Brighton and Hove City Council said they would condemn any moves by the owners to stop the residents doing something "harmlessly good".

Councillor Keith Taylor, who represents that section of Lewes Road, is preparing to ask the council to negotiate with the owners for the land to be used.

Councillor Pat Hawkes, who represents the Hollingdean area where some of the gardeners live, said: "What they have done is beautiful. It's quite outrageous if security men are trying to secure it. It is quite harmless, it has been done with good intentions and is being used responsibly.

"It has raised the quality of life in the area and given a source of pride. I can't believe anyone would be as imbecilic as to try to stop it."

A link to the petition and dates of future community gardening days can be found in the Lewes Road Community Garden page on Facebook.

Comments (22)

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4:33pm Fri 12 Jun 09

PETE OF QUEENS PARK says...

I've never seen such a dirty looking lot of lay abouts know doubt all on social because nobody else would employ the scruffy b----ds
I've never seen such a dirty looking lot of lay abouts know doubt all on social because nobody else would employ the scruffy b----ds PETE OF QUEENS PARK

4:46pm Fri 12 Jun 09

jay316 says...

and stole from the Spaces For Places, as I noticed some plants in that garden that looked very much like the ones from the Victoria Gardens area...

Brighton and Hove council condemn.. Well what a suprise... and there was me thinking that breaking and entering was still illegal.. and BHCC have more premises empty than any town I have ever been too.
and stole from the Spaces For Places, as I noticed some plants in that garden that looked very much like the ones from the Victoria Gardens area... Brighton and Hove council condemn.. Well what a suprise... and there was me thinking that breaking and entering was still illegal.. and BHCC have more premises empty than any town I have ever been too. jay316

4:47pm Fri 12 Jun 09

DougM says...

PETE OF QUEENS PARK wrote:
I've never seen such a dirty looking lot of lay abouts know doubt all on social because nobody else would employ the scruffy b----ds
Given the choice between them and you I know who I'd employ - the ones that can spell properly
[quote][p][bold]PETE OF QUEENS PARK[/bold] wrote: I've never seen such a dirty looking lot of lay abouts know doubt all on social because nobody else would employ the scruffy b----ds [/p][/quote]Given the choice between them and you I know who I'd employ - the ones that can spell properly DougM

4:49pm Fri 12 Jun 09

quedula says...

Could the GG's have a go at the Anson House site in Preston Road? It rapidly turning into a rubbish tip.
Could the GG's have a go at the Anson House site in Preston Road? It rapidly turning into a rubbish tip. quedula

4:50pm Fri 12 Jun 09

pun master says...

PETE OF QUEENS PARK wrote:
I've never seen such a dirty looking lot of lay abouts know doubt all on social because nobody else would employ the scruffy b----ds
What an intelligent observation Pete. Well done... You have formed a sound argument based on well researched evidence. I applaud you. And of course, for all you ignorant idiots out there, we all know a person's appearance is the best and indeed only way to judge a person's social, employment and personal qualities and characteristics. Thank you for the education Pete, thank you...
[quote][p][bold]PETE OF QUEENS PARK[/bold] wrote: I've never seen such a dirty looking lot of lay abouts know doubt all on social because nobody else would employ the scruffy b----ds [/p][/quote]What an intelligent observation Pete. Well done... You have formed a sound argument based on well researched evidence. I applaud you. And of course, for all you ignorant idiots out there, we all know a person's appearance is the best and indeed only way to judge a person's social, employment and personal qualities and characteristics. Thank you for the education Pete, thank you... pun master

4:53pm Fri 12 Jun 09

pun master says...

jay316 wrote:
and stole from the Spaces For Places, as I noticed some plants in that garden that looked very much like the ones from the Victoria Gardens area...

Brighton and Hove council condemn.. Well what a suprise... and there was me thinking that breaking and entering was still illegal.. and BHCC have more premises empty than any town I have ever been too.
I think you will find they have not broken and entered anywhere. Technically they may be guilty of trespassing on the site, which is of course a civil offence.
[quote][p][bold]jay316[/bold] wrote: and stole from the Spaces For Places, as I noticed some plants in that garden that looked very much like the ones from the Victoria Gardens area... Brighton and Hove council condemn.. Well what a suprise... and there was me thinking that breaking and entering was still illegal.. and BHCC have more premises empty than any town I have ever been too.[/p][/quote]I think you will find they have not broken and entered anywhere. Technically they may be guilty of trespassing on the site, which is of course a civil offence. pun master

5:21pm Fri 12 Jun 09

TheInsider says...

I loathe hippies, but I must say it looks great. Well done. This land was a filthy derelict site that the owners tried to flog at the height of the property boom. When the property bubble burst, they let the site become overgrown and it was used as a dump for rubbish and furniture. It was a filthy disgrace.
If the owners don't want hippies on it making it nice, they should be made to keep it tidy, rather than leave it looking like a tip for the next ten years while they wait for the next property boom.
No-one wants the land as there are empty fuel tanks under the land as it was a petrol station and it will cost any developer a fortune to deal with contamination removal.
Good luck to the hippies as at least the Lewes Road has managed to keep a lot cleaner than the London Road where the empty/derelict shops are an utter disgrace.
I loathe hippies, but I must say it looks great. Well done. This land was a filthy derelict site that the owners tried to flog at the height of the property boom. When the property bubble burst, they let the site become overgrown and it was used as a dump for rubbish and furniture. It was a filthy disgrace. If the owners don't want hippies on it making it nice, they should be made to keep it tidy, rather than leave it looking like a tip for the next ten years while they wait for the next property boom. No-one wants the land as there are empty fuel tanks under the land as it was a petrol station and it will cost any developer a fortune to deal with contamination removal. Good luck to the hippies as at least the Lewes Road has managed to keep a lot cleaner than the London Road where the empty/derelict shops are an utter disgrace. TheInsider

6:19pm Fri 12 Jun 09

stickman says...

Well done to the hippies - saw it the other day and thought it was a great idea - didn't realise it was unofficial...
Well done to the hippies - saw it the other day and thought it was a great idea - didn't realise it was unofficial... stickman

6:24pm Fri 12 Jun 09

Brighton Lad says...

Personally, I think they have turned an eyesore into quite a pleasant area. I have passed there a few times on my mobility scooter and seen the hard work. So well done is what I say.
Personally, I think they have turned an eyesore into quite a pleasant area. I have passed there a few times on my mobility scooter and seen the hard work. So well done is what I say. Brighton Lad

10:41pm Fri 12 Jun 09

bug eye says...

looks awful lewes road and london road are becoming ghettos. no one will shop there once full residents permits are put in place and the whole place will decay further. it should be soft touch permits to allow shoppers in the middle of the day. oh and can we have a decent building on this ugly garden and why are they not looking for work for their benefits, if they love gardening surely they could do it for the elderly and disabled for free.
looks awful lewes road and london road are becoming ghettos. no one will shop there once full residents permits are put in place and the whole place will decay further. it should be soft touch permits to allow shoppers in the middle of the day. oh and can we have a decent building on this ugly garden and why are they not looking for work for their benefits, if they love gardening surely they could do it for the elderly and disabled for free. bug eye

11:17pm Fri 12 Jun 09

TheInsider says...

At least these hippies are doing something useful rather than tagging walls or smashing up the pier in some EDO protest. The Lewes Road actually looks ok and someone has put some lovely wooden tubs of flowers out all the way along the road.
Bug eye, you should get them to spruce up some parts of Hove. George Street and Western Road is a war zone. I had an opticians appointment in Hove the other day and it was crawling with druggies and homeless people. What happened? It was never as open as that. It always seemed a bit nicer than Brighton, but not now.
Hire a hippy Bug Eye.
At least these hippies are doing something useful rather than tagging walls or smashing up the pier in some EDO protest. The Lewes Road actually looks ok and someone has put some lovely wooden tubs of flowers out all the way along the road. Bug eye, you should get them to spruce up some parts of Hove. George Street and Western Road is a war zone. I had an opticians appointment in Hove the other day and it was crawling with druggies and homeless people. What happened? It was never as open as that. It always seemed a bit nicer than Brighton, but not now. Hire a hippy Bug Eye. TheInsider

12:01am Sat 13 Jun 09

caeos says...

When i passed today, the gates didn't look 'un hinged' definate wide open. At least the drinkers etc can stare at the sun bathers.
Perhaps they could next sort out the empty Freehold Terrace site, after the trespass and fly tipping on this site.
or is the Naked Bike Ride organiser (Duncan) to busy
When i passed today, the gates didn't look 'un hinged' definate wide open. At least the drinkers etc can stare at the sun bathers. Perhaps they could next sort out the empty Freehold Terrace site, after the trespass and fly tipping on this site. or is the Naked Bike Ride organiser (Duncan) to busy caeos

12:08am Sat 13 Jun 09

Hove person says...

It looks fab I drove past on Thursday Go Guerilla Gardeners!
It looks fab I drove past on Thursday Go Guerilla Gardeners! Hove person

7:59am Sat 13 Jun 09

myhedgehog-yourbees says...

why have the argus tried to romanticise these people, they are not guerillas, they are hippie squatters, who have broken into a site by unhinging the gates, they doss around doing bug all, they have no self respect, or they would be out working like the rest of us. the dhss should go down there and take a tally of all the ones signing on, and ask why they are not out seeking work. dossers.
why have the argus tried to romanticise these people, they are not guerillas, they are hippie squatters, who have broken into a site by unhinging the gates, they doss around doing bug all, they have no self respect, or they would be out working like the rest of us. the dhss should go down there and take a tally of all the ones signing on, and ask why they are not out seeking work. dossers. myhedgehog-yourbees

8:55am Sat 13 Jun 09

TheInsider says...

I would rather pay unemployed people to do this kind stuff than sit about watching Jeremy Kyle on telly. It looks nice down there.
This is exactly what we should be paying unemployed people to do, to tidy up our communities instead of sitting at home smoking fags. I've been saying it for years.
I hope the guerilla gardeners also become guerilla graffiti cleaners, dog shi* removers and litter pickers.
I would rather pay unemployed people to do this kind stuff than sit about watching Jeremy Kyle on telly. It looks nice down there. This is exactly what we should be paying unemployed people to do, to tidy up our communities instead of sitting at home smoking fags. I've been saying it for years. I hope the guerilla gardeners also become guerilla graffiti cleaners, dog shi* removers and litter pickers. TheInsider

9:03am Sat 13 Jun 09

markharrison says...

Whats the big deal about "hippies".Whoever theses people are, regardless of their background should be congratuled for what they have done. NOT bigoted by a load of old **** that whinge about anything and everything.....
Whats the big deal about "hippies".Whoever theses people are, regardless of their background should be congratuled for what they have done. NOT bigoted by a load of old **** that whinge about anything and everything..... markharrison

9:33am Sat 13 Jun 09

Dmoog says...

Who says any of these people are on benefits? Where does this information come from? It is possible for people to have jobs and still do stuff in their spare time, other then just watching s**t on TV.
Who says any of these people are on benefits? Where does this information come from? It is possible for people to have jobs and still do stuff in their spare time, other then just watching s**t on TV. Dmoog

12:06pm Sat 13 Jun 09

Dixonian says...

Yeah Dmoog's right. The only people who moan about this kind of thing are the types of people who have never done anything spontaneous in their lives. They want everything done by the book. And heaven forbid that anybody use their personal freedom to make a small difference.

Good work people - don't let these cardboard caricatures of grumpy middle-agers do ya down!
Yeah Dmoog's right. The only people who moan about this kind of thing are the types of people who have never done anything spontaneous in their lives. They want everything done by the book. And heaven forbid that anybody use their personal freedom to make a small difference. Good work people - don't let these cardboard caricatures of grumpy middle-agers do ya down! Dixonian

12:49pm Sat 13 Jun 09

mr punch says...

If these soap dodgers have made a nice place to go, why should someone close it just "because". I haven't seen the place yet but I'm sure it's better than it was before. Being soap dodgers though, I'm sure the police will be keeping an eye on what sort of plants they are growing!
If these soap dodgers have made a nice place to go, why should someone close it just "because". I haven't seen the place yet but I'm sure it's better than it was before. Being soap dodgers though, I'm sure the police will be keeping an eye on what sort of plants they are growing! mr punch

1:45pm Sat 13 Jun 09

Osama bin there says...

It's not decorated to my taste, but it looks a hell of a lot better than a derelict piece of wasteland strewn with rubbish - which is how it was.
They have said they will hand it back if something is going to be built on it. But whilst that isn't happening, these people should be congratulated for getting off their backsides and doing something for the community - for nothing. I hope they have their eyes on other derelict sites. There are too many of them around the town. The owners should be made to keep them tidy by law. And if a law already exists - it should be enforced.
It's not decorated to my taste, but it looks a hell of a lot better than a derelict piece of wasteland strewn with rubbish - which is how it was. They have said they will hand it back if something is going to be built on it. But whilst that isn't happening, these people should be congratulated for getting off their backsides and doing something for the community - for nothing. I hope they have their eyes on other derelict sites. There are too many of them around the town. The owners should be made to keep them tidy by law. And if a law already exists - it should be enforced. Osama bin there

2:04pm Sat 13 Jun 09

John Steed says...

back in the early seventies when the site was the reliance motor works, I worked at Brighton Van hire just down the road, the owner of the site took me upstairs and the entire 1st floor was fully equiped engineering workshop still equiped with over a hundred drills and small presses where small componants were manufactured as part of the war effort, they also used to have a very handy parafin pump, much cheaper than diesel and smelt nicer, bit illegal to put in the tank though.
anyone still around who remembers it during the war?
as to the locals green fingers, well hats off to them I had to drive past it to see what the fuss was about, got to admit looks ten times better than a derelict developement site, the owners would do well to issue a license to occupy until it is required, better still the city council should purchase it and leave it as a much needed island of tranquility
if any of the local want to form a purchasing group I will gladly send you a donation
back in the early seventies when the site was the reliance motor works, I worked at Brighton Van hire just down the road, the owner of the site took me upstairs and the entire 1st floor was fully equiped engineering workshop still equiped with over a hundred drills and small presses where small componants were manufactured as part of the war effort, they also used to have a very handy parafin pump, much cheaper than diesel and smelt nicer, bit illegal to put in the tank though. anyone still around who remembers it during the war? as to the locals green fingers, well hats off to them I had to drive past it to see what the fuss was about, got to admit looks ten times better than a derelict developement site, the owners would do well to issue a license to occupy until it is required, better still the city council should purchase it and leave it as a much needed island of tranquility if any of the local want to form a purchasing group I will gladly send you a donation John Steed

7:48pm Sun 14 Jun 09

mr punch says...

John I am starting such a group and a donation would be welcome, lets say twenty grand is that OK?
John I am starting such a group and a donation would be welcome, lets say twenty grand is that OK? mr punch

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