NEIGHBOURS have transformed a rundown plot behind

a council block of flats into a pleasant communal garden.

The area used to be “uninviting” with a condemned climbing frame and a wooden table that was falling apart.

But that has all changed thanks to resident James Henson, 37, whose 78-year-old mother has lived in the flats in Wickhurst Rise, Portslade for 36 years.

He remembers the garden was separated into individual plots when he was a child.

He said: “Some of the plots were looking a bit shabby as people weren’t looking after them, so the residents agreed the garden should be made communal.”

But when he moved back home seven years ago, after working at the Hard Rock Cafe in Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona, he found the garden in need of improvement.

He said: “People don’t know the garden is here because it has high walls on the outside but 18 flats share it.

“Two years ago, I sat down with three other residents one afternoon and we decided to make the garden prettier and more homely.”

The group applied for Estate Development Budget (EDB) grants from Brighton and Hove City Council and received four grants of £750 each to renovate the garden.

James said: “I think they were happy to give us the money because it’s improving council land, but I’ve also put my own money in.

“Brighton and Hove City Council condemned the old children’s climbing frame which was here so I took that down.

“There was an old table that was in such bad condition you could put your hand through it.

“Now more residents are involved in the project and we’ve added flowerbeds and painted and repaired the old shed so children can put their bikes and paddling pools inside.

“My mum hadn’t met half of the people who live here but now they come out into the garden for a coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening, it’s really nice to see.”

The residents are now applying for a further grant to make the space wheelchair accessible and start work on the front garden.

Councillor Peter Atkinson, who represents North Portslade, said: “This is an imaginative use of the grant budget, as it brings residents together and improves their environment. It fosters a genuine community spirit.”