Hannah Worthington, Torbay Green Spaces Development Officer for Groundwork South, continues her reflections on why green spaces matter more than ever, and how communities can ensure these places are valued and cared for

The Hawkins Avenue entrance to Markham Plantation pictured in 2014 when a new marker was installed. Photo: Torbay CouncilThe Hawkins Avenue entrance to Markham Plantation pictured in 2014 when a new marker was installed. Photo: Torbay Council

On the surface, Markham Plantation is nothing particularly special, just a narrow strip of land running between Hawkins Avenue and Sherwell Valley Road in Higher Chelston.

Dotted with a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees, the site occupies a fairly steep slope and is bordered by back gardens along its length.

However, like a panel of judges on a TV talent show, Markham’s neighbours spotted its ‘potential’.

They could see that with a bit of ‘polishing up’ this green space could become a play area, a nature refuge, a place for exercise, a venue for learning, or all of this and more.

Where to start? With a mini makeover, of course!

So, instigated by local resident Valerie Bailey, a community clean-up was organised for September 19 as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘Great September Clean’.

Two hours, four bags of rubbish, one large bag of recycling, several barrow-loads of bramble and the odd snack - purely for energy purposes - later, and the entrance area was looking a lot more welcoming. Not bad for ten people, two of whom were under five!

Yet this was more than a litter pick, this was a chance for these ‘mentors’ to pitch their ideas about what direction Markham’s showbiz career should take... OK, so that might be stretching the talent show analogy a bit, but these neighbours essentially want Markham to shine and know that if the site is actively valued and cared for then everyone in the community will benefit.

Torbay Council and Groundwork South are working to support communities just like those in Higher Chelston who are, or want to be, involved in caring for green spaces.

We don’t have a golden buzzer to ‘make dreams come true’ but we can help communities to nurture their green spaces by providing resources like the ‘How to organise a community clean-up’ guide, or advising on how to set up a new group, as well as supporting with tools and practical know-how.

To find out more about Markham Plantation or how to start a community Green Space group, please contact Hannah Worthington on 07940510616 or email hannah.worthington@groundwork.org.uk