Nightingale Estate Community Action Day

Ranger story by Michael Shilling

As well as being a London National Park City Ranger, I also volunteer with CPRE London (The Countryside Charity). From time to time certain projects and events capture my attention or I’m called on to take some photos and do some filming for them.

For the past few weeks I’ve found myself frequenting Hackney and meeting with several community groups and volunteers. Hackney can certainly be described as an “activated” borough, as it hosts so many wonderful organisations and community groups, all working towards making London a greener, healthier and wilder place to live.

London National Park City Blog Michael Shilling CPRE Groundwork Nightingale Estate Community Action Day 4

On Thursday 27th October I visited the Nightingale Estate in Hackney for a community action day.The estate originally consisted of six 22 story tower blocks. A 2003-2006 redevelopment replaced all but one of the towers with mostly low rise buildings. The remaining tower, Seaton Point, is currently undergoing improvement work.

London National Park City Blog Michael Shilling CPRE Groundwork Nightingale Estate Community Action Day 1In 2018, redundant buildings were demolished with plans to replace them with 70 new social rent homes. Hoardings have surrounded the site for some time and local residents have transformed this space into a meanwhile-use community garden.

With the help of Groundwork London, 60 volunteer workers from Amazon UK and EU were brought in for the day to work on three different projects on the estate. The day was also supported by Hackney Council.

London National Park City Blog Michael Shilling CPRE Groundwork Nightingale Estate Community Action Day 6

In the community garden, a structure was built to the exact specifications of the Seaton Point balconies in order to show residents how they can create a balcony garden in their own spaces. Volunteers also helped clear a mountain of earth and rubble, built raised planters and planted hundreds of bulbs in the central greenspace area of the estate. Many of the volunteers said they plan on returning during the summer to see the fruits (and flowers) of their labour.

London National Park City Blog Michael Shilling CPRE Groundwork Nightingale Estate Community Action Day 5

In Napoleon Road, previously a grey parking lot, a team led by CPRE London head of campaigns, Alice Roberts, and the Groundwork experts created a parklet and plantings along the walkway to Hackney Downs. In a spot where a tree’s roots had cracked through the paving, all the concrete was removed to create a marvellous plant bed. This was a site CPRE London has targeted for some time, as part of their Grey to Green Campaign.

It was an amazing day, as not only were local residents getting involved, but the volunteers genuinely enjoyed themselves and their sense of accomplishment was clear to see. Many of the volunteers expressed an interest to return to the estate to help out on future community action days.

London National Park City Blog Michael Shilling CPRE Groundwork Nightingale Estate Community Action Day 2

Watch Michael’s video of the Nightingale Community Action Day on YouTube:

London National Park City Blog Michael Shilling CPRE Groundwork Nightingale Estate Community Action Day 7

Groundwork are a not-for-profit organisation that work with communities across London to transform their lives and the places they live.

CPRE London are the capital’s Countryside Charity. They are passionate about making London a greener and healthier place for everyone to live, work and enjoy.

The Nightingale Estate Community Action Group are committed to helping connect local residents, community gardening and making ecological improvements to the estate.


michael shilling LNPC Ranger

Michael Shilling has worked as a professional photographer for the past twenty years. Alongside his Croydon studio he is the social media specialist volunteer for CPRE London and creator of London In 360. He creates daily content exploring London’s walking routes, street art and green spaces.

Read more Ranger Stories and find out about other projects happening around London on the London National Park City blog.

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