From May 2009 to June 2010 the Lewes Road Community Garden provided a popular free community space enjoyed by thousands of people in and around the Lewes Road area of Brighton.
The garden was created by 'guerilla gardeners', well local residents, on the derelict site of an old Esso Garage.
The land is owned by property developers Alburn (Minos) Ltd who want to build a Tesco and flats on the site and recently took legal proceedings to evict the Garden.
On Monday 28th June the Garden was moved off the site, to become a 'garden in exile, located in several small sites in the same neighbourhood. So the Garden lives on and supporters await its return to it's original, rightful and ideal location at the heart of the Lewes Road community
Planning permission to build seven flats and two shops, including a Tesco store, was granted on 25 August 2009. At news of this, thousands were outraged that we might loose the garden to suffer a Tesco that will threaten other local shops and add to the congestion and air pollution which blights the Lewes Road area.
Where the garden has provided a nurturing community space for people to breathe, to meet, to rest, to play; the development will return this green corner to concrete urban blandness. Many people in the area live in small flats with no access to a garden and little opportunity to meet easily with neighbours. The Garden has provided for that.
Nearly 4,000 signaturies supported calls to continue the garden and to 'Say No to Tesco'. However, in spite of this the garden is in a weak legal position and the developers took legal proceedings to evict the garden with a case which went before Brighton County Court on Monday 21 June.
At a County Court hearing on 21 June, the Lewes Road Community Garden was instructed to leave the land. The judge ruled that people associated the garden must give 'vacant possession' of the land by Monday 28th June at 4.30pm. Failure to do this would mean thatdeveloper’s legal costs, totalling £6,800, would be sought from two named individuals.
At a meeting in the Garden the next day, Tuesday 22 June, attended by over 40 people, it was unanimously, if reluctantly, agreed that we should withdraw from the land by the deadline statred by the court. Items started to be moved off the site from Wednesday 23 June. Planters and other items have now been moved to alternative local sites including schools (Fairlight & St Martins) and parks (Saunders Park and William Clarke Park). A mini garden has also been set up outside the NatWest Bank on the Lewes Riad. In this way the garden lives on in the physical world as well as in hearts and memories – a 'Lewes Road Garden in exile', ready to return home if and when the opportunity arises.
Friends of the Lewes Road Community Garden are setting up a fund with a view to buying the land and forming a community land trust.
We plan to set up a PayPal button on this site to enable supporters to donate funds. We are also looking at establishing a system for inviting pledges from people to commit larger sums.
If the opportunity to buy the land should then arise our garden in exile can be moved back at a later stage.