Creating communities: transforming shared spaces

Irene Winter, CEO of Hornsey Lane Estate Community Association, stood in the newly refurbished children's playground at the Hornsey Lane Estate community centre

Irene Winter, CEO of Hornsey Lane Estate Community Association, on how recent funding has helped transform the estate’s community centre

On housing estates across the borough, the council is investing money to improve shared spaces and services. It’s a three-year programme called Thriving Neighbourhoods, which in total will use £10 million to transform facilities such as playgrounds, community centres, storage, recycling and sports pitches. In the first round of the programme, which opened in September 2022, more than 200 projects were funded by the council – including one at Hornsey Lane Community Centre. The centre received funding to renovate its building, which is used by more than 700 people.

The centre, which is in the middle of the Hornsey Lane Estate, provides a range of services, including a nursery, youth activities and a food hub, among other things. “We heard about the Thriving Neighbourhoods funding from a council officer who sent us posters and leaflets to display and give to residents,” explains Irene. “I applied for the funding on behalf of the community centre, based on feedback from residents about how we could improve.”

Improvements included a new surface for the playground, which is well-used by children on the estate. “The old surface had cracks, lumps missing and didn’t provide a safe space to support young children’s play and learning,” she continues. “The children chose the new colour for the playground and they absolutely love playing there. We are really happy with it.” The old, unsafe nursery windows were also replaced.

“We weren’t able to open them before, because we worried they might break and be dangerous for the children,” says Irene. “Also, before we got the new windows, we didn’t get enough light into the nursery, so it was a bit dark and dingy. Now, it’s very bright and welcoming in here.”

Funding was also used to revamp the entrance to the centre. There’s a new shelter, which Irene describes as a “great help. It keeps parents dry when they are coming to collect their children, as well as all the prams and scooters that they bring.” There is also a new gate, which is “easier and safer to open, and makes the whole front of the building much more appealing.”

The second round of funding is open for applications from 15 January 2024 – an opportunity for local people to submit suggestions for how the money could be spent where they live. If you have an idea, be sure to make a note to submit a suggestion!

For more information about the Thriving Neighbourhoods programme, visit the council website.

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