Government ‘magic money tree’ has £85,000 for Croydon parks

Who said there’s no such thing as a “magic money tree”?

Park life: a government fund will help pay towards some new trees and open space

Croydon is to receive £85,000 from a government fund towards improving its parks with tree planting, after the borough was determined to be among those which “rate highly on the Index of Multiple Deprivation and have limited access to green space”.

The Department for Levelling Up announced this morning, “We are making £9million available in equal grants for the creation or significant refurbishment of green spaces in urban areas that need it most across the UK.

“In England, this will go to local authorities in areas with the least access to green space which rate highly on the Index of Multiple Deprivation.”

Someone at the council only has to “opt in” to the programme by the first week in September to automatically receive the cash.

No one at the cash-strapped, and apparently clueless, council was available this morning to comment on whether they would “opt in” to the government scheme, nor to say what they might use the money for.

Croydon is one of 85 local authorities around the country which have been judged to need what might be described as “seed funding” under the scheme. In London, more than half of the capital’s boroughs – Croydon and 15 others – have been judged as needing this particular kind of levelling up.

“The Levelling Up Parks Fund will create new and improved parks in urban areas, helping communities to come together and enjoy the outdoors,” the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced today. More than 100 “new and improved green spaces on their doorstep” are expected to be created with the fund.

Sanctuary: Levelling Up minister Greg Clark MP

“The government hopes each new or improved green space will be an oasis for the local community, boosting creativity and positive mental health whilst also contributing to net zero ambitions.”

Whitehall says that “the cash will be given to councils to create or significantly revamp existing parks in 85 neighbourhoods most deprived of outdoor space”.

They say, “The new parks will significantly increase access to quality green space for those who need it most, particularly supporting people without a garden to spend time with friends and family in the natural world… Councils will be able to choose the nature and location of the new or improved parks in their local area, meaning that each green space will be as unique as the community it serves.”

Greg Clark, who recently took over from Michael Gove as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, said, “Parks and green spaces are at the heart of our communities, providing sanctuary from the bustling streets of our towns and cities and spaces for people to relax and come together.

“Over the past few years, the importance of spending time with loved ones and getting outdoors has become even more apparent, and this latest government funding will help people living in urban areas do just that.”

Of the total amount of funding, £2million will be used specifically for tree planting.

“Big or small, green areas help us to connect with nature and support the health of our communities,” said Tony Juniper, the chair of Natural England, which is backing the government scheme.

“Our research showed that 4-in-10 people said visiting green and natural spaces had been even more important to their wellbeing since the pandemic began.

“This investment will create new habitats for our precious wildlife and build beautiful places for everyone to enjoy, with our data and expertise supporting the development of green spaces in areas where communities say they are needed the most.”

Read more: This is £12m Fairfield ‘plaza’ that Mayor Perry wants to create
Read more: Part-time Perry is fiddling over ULEZ while Croydon burns
Read more: Mayor Perry and Labour in playground squabble over park

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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7 Responses to Government ‘magic money tree’ has £85,000 for Croydon parks

  1. Martin Rosen says:

    I want to know which garden centres sell money-tree plants, because I want one in my garden!

    I have to admit that I’m amazed that Croydon categorises as “deprived” of green spaces. Of course I know that I’m privileged to live in Addiscombe rather than Thornton Heath or Norwood, but I’m genuinely surprised that the parks and spaces near me don’t counterbalance those areas which lack such spaces. Surely there are more needy areas around the country than ours?

    A cynic might suppose that politicking is afoot, and that our new Conservative Mayor is being plied with funds to make a political point to the electorate?

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Quite a lot of the North is concrete- but it is not just the parks or green spaces – many roads have trees but few have in the North. The North has also a majority of the most populated wards in a smaller area comparable to many other wards. but yes overall we have a number of green areas adjoining or in the Borough.

      With the new developments happening more so in the east and south (and still ongoing in the North also) generating such widespread support for DEMOC I do have to laugh at the irony. Conservative Local Government Policy and regulations dictated by a Conservative Central Government dumped as raw sewage on a Labour mayor and treated to lessen the damage is applied by a Conservative ”advised” Administration during the last few years where the Labour Councillors were ignored after Newmanism tipped the debt scale too far and now implemented by a Tory mayor –

      No that is not cynicism – more like a raging farce – (or planned all along? says the aluminium hatted conspiracy theorist)

      Irrespective of accident or intent – you could not make this s**t up! I do keep referring to the Hitchhikers guide but frankly even Adams would be shaking his head at this level of ”reality”! Oh for a return of spitting images!

      • Hazel swain says:

        central Croydon is ALL concrete thanks to the massive over building policy .., it now a heat zone wind tunnel

  2. derekthrower says:

    More of a magic money twig than a branch even.

  3. Ian Kierans says:

    Remember no one at the Council or the Mayor owns up to reading Inside Croydon.
    Therefore If they manage to plant some green twigs or ”renovate” places before sale three things may have occurred.
    1. Perry will take credit and use this as a carbon offset for vetoing the ULEZ an LEZ expansion
    2. Evidence they do actually read I.C.
    3. The planning department might replace the tree’s ”lost” in ”perfectly legal developments” and claim they also do their bit (tongue in cheek) to address the multiple deprivation by multiple allegedly depraved planning decisions.

  4. Chris says:

    Perhaps a few ‘leaves’ from this tree could make their way toward Bourne Park in Kenley, most wouldn’t even know was there any more.

  5. Lewis White says:

    Money for new trees is great – subject to a huge caveat: that the trees are mulched and watered well in the critical first year after planting. It is a total waste of public money, plus staff time for the tree planting layout designer, and the people involved in planting, if trees are planted then left to fend for themselves without enough watering.

    In reality, trees planted in exposed, public areas like streets and parks should be watered well at time of planting, to ensure the soil in which they are to grow starts off nice and damp. Then a first watering visit is needed in March, then maybe 2 in April, 2 in June, 3 in July, 3 in August and 1 in September – that is the ideal, around 11, all of which need a driver, a suitable van, and a water-filled tank (a bowser) on the back, with a motorised pump and hose, or at least, a gravity fed hose. Plus about 10 miniutes time to really water each tree properly. Oh, and the water !

    A tree planted in the Autumn, even through it has dropped its last Autumn leaves, is still growing, and has time to grow a lot of new root fibre as a result of the warm soil. It is amazing – like magical beings, to see the tiny pale rootlets- that grow within days of planting.

    It is cheaper to plant trees in grass verges, where normal spades and forks can be used to dig the holes, and where there should be natural soil going down deep, allowing the roots to grow sideways and downwards to get enough water to support the growth of the trees as they grow through youth, maturity, and old age.

    Trees planted in footways and paved areas will need a “tree pit” (ideally with a cubic yard or metre in size) to be excavated in the tarmac and concrete–a tough job, nowadays mainly done by road contractors, involving a concrete breaker. The pit needs to be filled with a mix of around 4/5 soil and 1/5 compost and a root-promoting fertiliser.

    Ironically, the current drought shows this up that young trees planted in grass verges can suffer more from drought than trees planted in paved areas, because the surrounding grass intercepts and gobbles up any rainfall falling on the soil surface.

    Hence, mulching with a few inches of tree bark over an area of a square yard or metre keeps the grass at bay, and keeps soil moisture in the soil and available for the tree.

    Tree can be fitted with watering tubes, and watering bags, but with the former, there is a danger that only part of the tree pit gets irrigated. With the latter, as I found recently, there can be a different danger, that the holes intended to let water trickle out, can get blocked by algae or soil . It would be very easy to feel happy that the water filled bags are doing their stuff when they actually are bunged up, so that no water filters out into the soil. So these need regular checking and cleaning, and then filling with water ! .

    An old fashioned, logical thing is to plant trees in a shallow crater that can be filed with water.
    Simples ! Fine for grass verges– leave the soil 3″ down, then top up with 2 inches of mulch. All water applied will fill up the space and seep in to the tree roots.

    You can’t do the same with street trees, owing to trip hazards. In that case, watering tubes or bags plus a mulch of a medium grade crushed stone will keep the weeds away, and soil moisture in. No one wants to see weed-strewn tree pits. And the weeds take the moisture. So the tree will struggle or die.

    I hope that the Government are aware of the real cost of mulching and watering, as it really is crucial, and insist that maybe 25% of the grant per tree is for watering in year one and two. I know, to my shame, the vital need for watering, as in my early career, we trusted to luck as to rainfall, and sometimes trees died due to inadequate watering. By the mid 80’s it was obvious that the summers were getting longer and hotter, and that several waterings were essential. Now we know– a lot of waterings are needed to get new trees through the critical sspring and summer of year one after planting.

    I now ask volunteer groups — how and when are you going to water the trees?. Get that sorted first, you can think about the trees and the planting.

    After 2 years, a tree that is heathily growing will look after itself, other than the ultra expensive semi- mature trees for clients with big ambitions and big pockets. Those big trees need watering for 3 or 4. Not the typical local authority tree which is perhaps a 3 metre tall “selected standard” or “heavy standard”, planted as an individual . For urban street planting in streets or parks, these give the best balance between cost, robustness and ease of planting.

    For mass plantings, smaller-sized trees planted (maybe a metre high up to 1.5 m high) in groups be appropriate, witha gain a huge caveat…. mulching. Without mulching, agan a square metre round each young tree, trees planted in grassland will get choked by grass, and the grass will take away 95% or the soil moisture.

    I hope that Croydon say “yes ” to the government offer. I must say, that Croydon did well a few years ago when bidding for London mayor funds for new trees.

    I have not mentioned above, a topic equally as important as planting trees in new locations–it is planting replacement trees for ones that “used to be but are no longer there”– the dead/ missing street tree.

    A tree dies through old age, or disease. It gets wiped out by a crashing car or knocked down by a reversing lorry. The planting location becomes a “vacant tree pit” .

    If these are edged by a line of bricks, a detail seen in Coulsdon and other areas, the vacant pits remain obvious. If the pits are unmarked, they get tarmacked over. They disappear from our consciousness. Maybe even from the Council highway and trees’ departments’ records, in time.

    There are hundreds, maybe well over 1000 such vacant tree pits in streets in Croydon.(my guess based on looking around) .

    If the council are serious about climate change, as I hope they are, a really good thing they could do would be to fund over 5 years, the replacement of ALL street trees that are “missing” . Maybe that could be the topic for another article in Inside Croydon ?

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