Communal garden in Rochester transformed after intervention of Kent Police PCSO
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Fruit trees are blooming in a Rochester garden thanks to the efforts of a Kent Police PCSO, residents and other important partners.
The space had previously been impacted by substance misuse and anti-social behaviour, with discarded drug paraphernalia and bedding often found on the site.
Four pear trees, three apple trees, two plum trees and two cherry trees are now standing proud in the same place, while the flowerbeds are adorned with rosebushes, hollyhocks, and hydrangeas. Residents are also starting to enjoy their first harvest of peas, beans, potatoes and tomatoes.
The transformation is thanks to the efforts of ward PCSO Chris McCann, residents, mhs homes and councillors.
Jason Soper, a John Street resident who was heavily involved in the work, said: ‘It all started at the beginning of the last lockdown. We had quite a problem with people who would often hide around the back and leave needles all around.
‘We decided we’re going to totally gut this garden and make it safe for children to play outside. It’s been completely changed into a tranquil relaxation spot.
‘PCSO McCann has helped us by being a voice of what has been going on around here. He’s done loads of letters to the council and housing association.’
Neighbour Su Huddleston added: ‘The garden itself is now safe and secure, it’s made such a difference.
‘We’ve also done the front, by planting fuchsias right the way along. It’s all small things, but everything is coming up nicely and it’s much nicer to live here.’
The garden, which serves six households and is close to where John Street and Weatherly Close meet, had previously attracted gatherings of people who would make residents feel unsafe.
PCSO McCann engaged with the individuals who were frequenting the site and made them aware of the range of support available to them.
He also spoke with a person who was allowing them access to the garden and these interventions have resulted in the premises no longer being used for such activity.
Partner agency mhs homes, and councillors covering the Rochester East ward, also played an important role in helping bring the garden back to life.
This included erecting a new fence and gate to make the garden more secure, and allowing residents to choose what they wanted to grow.
Potholes on the nearby road have also been filled in.
PCSO McCann said: ‘When I became aware that this garden was being misused, I couldn’t ignore the problem and made sure I added it to my daily patrols, particularly when I was working on the late shifts.
‘I also made sure our partner agencies were aware so that, between us, we could do as much as possible to support the community.
‘The result is a beautiful communal garden in a space which was previously quite run down.
‘The residents have worked really hard to transform the space and it is a pleasure to see the renewed sense of pride they have.’