Working through tough challenges

"I had no idea so many children lived here until the playground opened. It's been like a cork bursting out of a bottle." If you read the article by Liz Kessler in last week's edition of HW, you will recognise the description by one housing estate resident of the impact a new playground and revamped landscaping has had on one deprived corner in the London Borough of Islington.

It is a sentiment that will be familiar to so many in our industry who have worked on the redevelopment of similar sites and had the opportunity to play a part in the transformation that great community landscaping projects can have in such areas. Which makes the news earlier this month that play projects yet to get started on site under the £235m Playbuilder scheme (see p3) have become the latest victims of the public spending squeeze all the more frustrating - if not unexpected.

Meanwhile, for suppliers to public sector landscaping projects, the decision closes down yet another branch of activity at a time when continued uncertainty over key developments in planning policy and other changes being ushered in by the new Government continue to cause a hiatus in the sector.

In a bid to help suppliers find a way through the impact of the maze of changes and developments currently taking place in the commercial landscaping market, Horticulture Week will be hosting a debate at next months' IoG Saltex (previewed here). The debate will examine the impact of both the public sector spending squeeze and the Government's changes to regeneration and planning policy on the future of public sector landscaping projects.

Speakers include the regeneration expert Tim Williams, who is a former adviser to David Miliband and a current adviser to the Homes & Communities Agency; Noel Farrer, who leads the Landscape Institute's policy committee and is a leading player in public sector landscape design in the UK; and Nick Temple Heald, who has a wealth of experience in both landscaping and grounds maintenance projects, most recently as the current managing director of English Landscapes. We look forward to welcoming you there. for recent leaders.

Kate Lowe, editor, can be contacted at

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