Balham community garden founders fight to save land from developers


Founders of the Hyde Farm Community Garden met the church for key talks on Wednesday.


By Katie Holland

Founders of a Balham community garden, fighting to save the church-owned land from developers, met the church for key talks on Wednesday.

The Hyde Farm Community Garden was created in the grounds of the disused St Thomas’ Church Hall in Radbourne Road in 2009.  

Tended by those living in and around Hyde Farm Estate, it is now a thriving garden producing everything from broad beans to apples to artichokes.

A nearby primary school and nursery also regularly use the garden, giving children valuable lessons in growing sustainable, organic food. 

The site is owned by the Parochial Church Council of St Thomas with St Stephen (PCC), who granted the Hyde Farm Climate Action Network (Hyde Farm CAN) permission to set up the garden as a community project.

However this was a temporary arrangement and the PCC now plan to sell the site in order to fund ongoing redevelopment of St Thomas’ Church on Telford Avenue.  

PCC Secretary Helen White said that after a community consultation earlier this year they are committed to proceeding with the sale.

 “After local consultation the church retains its vision of completing its programme of creating good quality, accessible resources for the community and will require sufficient funds from disposal of the hall site to achieve this,” she said.

Hyde Farm CAN co-founder Adrian Audsley wants the garden to remain and the hall to be made useable again. 

He said the site could be used for educational and community activities, a vision he feels has struck a chord with garden users.

“It’s a big thing, seeing the community coming together – different generations, walks of life are meeting up,” he said.

Despite the church plans to create new resources, he believes the community needs a non-denominational space.

“You are never going to get everyone coming together for a church,” he pointed out.

For Mr Audsley it is not just about the garden. He is also concerned about the effect on the historic site, built on an old medieval field, if it is bought by developers.

“The site is 99 years old, when it’s gone it’s gone for ever,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting was chaired by MP Chuka Umunna.

For more information about the community garden go to  The PCC report on the future of the church hall site is at

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