Friday, 4 November 2011

Vandals Strike in Leabank Square

There was very bad news today for all the kids who designed the Leabank Square Gardening Club noticeboard ( when some vandals destroyed it.

Sometime in the afternoon they struck and destroyed the beautifully painted recycled noticeboard. Unfortunately no-one saw who did it - but a few of the younger Gardening Club members told me that they saw it fly-tipped in the domestic bin area.

To rub salt in their wounds - the vandals seem to make their destruction even crueler by throwing the destroyed noticeboard in our own refuse area!! Perhaps they are trying to make some kind of point?

Anyhow - once the spring comes along again we'll do an even better one for the garden.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Hummingbird Hawk Moth visits Leabank Square

The Daily Mail - predictably calls it an immigrant - the rest of us marvel at this incredibly beautiful visitor to Leabank Square.

A couple of these Hummingbird Hawk Moths were sucking nectar from the Verbena in the Purple Garden on the riverbank this morning. Please do yourself a favour and go up to have a look. They are absolutely stunning!!

You can see why they are named after the Hummingbird - they hover above each tiny flower sucking as much nectar from them as possible. The long proboscis even resembles the Hummingbirds beak!

According to the Butterfly Conservation website ( they come over from North Africa - and sometimes hibernate here over the winter. Thanks to the kids in the Gardening Club - there are plenty of hidy-holes for them do that this winter - here's hoping!!

I'm not too sure how long they're going to hang about - so get up to the Purple Garden as soon as you can to check them out!!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

New Olympic Shops Open!!

There was great excitement today when the brand spanking new Olympic Chicken shack opened in Hackney Wick!!

For months now - every Hackney Wicker has been storing their pennies just for this very day. The extra security laid on was definitely needed to control the crowd as the doors finally opened - and what incredible treats awaited the patient!

Brand new chrome decorations and superbly finished interiors welcomed the throng. Say what you want about the products on sale - but no expense has been spared by the Olympic Chicken people. They really know how to spoil us.

Oh - and some other shops also opened around the corner in Stratford today as well.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Welcome to Leabank Square Iwona & Zibby

A big and warm welcome to our newest neighbours Iwona and Zibby. Not only are they keen gardeners, but as you can see, they are also very keen kayakers! They love the Purple Garden here in Leabank Square and can’t believe how lucky they are to have the canal right on their doorstep!

We’d like to thank them both for choosing our community to make their new home and thank them for helping to spruce up their side of the riverbank.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

BBCs Adrian Warner visits Leabank Square

The Olympics today announced that Arena Fields is to change its name to East Wick after the Olympics.

This is another part of the grand plan to make locals feel very disconnected to the playing fields, orchards, nutteries & allotments that used to be here for us all to enjoy. 'Hey - ask the whole of the UK what we should call Arena Fields - without telling them anything about its past - and call it democracy'

Anyhow - the BBC's Adrian Warner paid a visit to Leabank Squares Purple Garden this evening to do his piece. Nice guy - even if his TV voice is a little dull - and he loves Leabank Square.

Thanks to all the kids who made his visit entertaining.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Leabank Square Swans - The Latest!

Just look at the last remaining cygnet now!! It's almost as big as Mum & Dad!

The swans have left the nest here in Leabank Square - and sleep further downstream - next to Omega Works each night. This was inevitable - as unfortunately - they were getting a load of harassment from a few of the kids. So Mum & Dad packed up & took Junior off to safer pastures.

But they make at least two stop-overs during the day as they sail past going upstream every day. More or less about 8am - and again at about 3pm. As you can see - Dad has gotten a load more chilled now that Junior is getting larger - and is taking food from Nadira's hand now - but Mum & Junior are still a bit too nervous to try this. They do - however - get very close.

It's so sweet to see the parents not rushing in for the food - but allowing Junior to have his fill first. Once they think he's had enough - they then start taking for themselves.

As far as food goes - they seem to prefer wholemeal bread - and ignore white of pitta bread. I've been doing some research - and it seems okay to give them bread - as swans get most of their food from the bottom of the river anyway - and top it up with some of our bread. So feel free to take a few slices up to the riverbank.

Juniors feathers are still a mix of downy & teen shoots - so it will be a few more months before he can fly - but occasionally Mum or Dad flexes their wings and goes for a bit of a flight. Junior gets a bit excited at watching this - stretching his wings and flapping about a bit.

Anyhow - please go up to the riverbank and enjoy our stunning new neighbours - before winter makes them think of maybe heading somewhere warmer.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Olympic Legacy - Leabank Square's Concerns.

A few days ago - Caroline Davies came to Hackney Wick to do a story about our concerns for the future of the Wick a year before the games. She spoke to many people - but concentrated on James in the fabulous Hackney Pearl, the ever entertaining Al in White Post Lane - and me here in Leabank Square.

Of course - no journalist can ever capture the sheer cliff-like monstrosity of the Olympic site that faces us - but I tried to put across what most of us feel about the architecture.

More than anything - I spoke about what we all want after the games. Leabank Square has always had the short straw as far as the construction work is concerned. We were the first to have buildings constructed - pulled down - re-constructed, pulled down again - and now rebuilding yet more temporary buildings directly opposite us - again for them to be demolished.

then - we have about 5 more years of be-designing & building whoever takes over the media centre as well.

There is not one part of the Olympic site that will have had noise, dust & mayhem - only to be left with the most underwhelming architecture for us to stare at for many decades to come!!

I told Caroline all this - and I think she did a very good article on balance. She got over what most of us feel about all the decade of disruption the Olympics have brought to Leabank Square.

For link to the article - see:

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Art for Leabank Square Green

Have you seen the very clever art exhibition on our green?

At 1st glance it might just seem to be an orange plank - until you take a walk around the rest of Hackney Wick & Fish Island.

You will notice a few more orange pieces dotted all around the streets.

They are the work of the brilliant new artist Rowan Durrant. He has identified a few places where something has just been neglected - and has put them right - but in orange.

We all know that PMMS have completely neglected Leabank Square for years - and have left some parts to rot away and decay. For this privilege - we have paid them shedloads of 'service' charge. The bench on the green has been broken for 3 years - and despite several attempts to get them to fix it - it takes an artist who doesn't even live here - to get it done.

He's done the same in a few other spots around our streets. Signs the councils have just left broken - 'street furniture' the authorities have just never bothered to replace, rails etc.
So whether you see our new installation as art, a message to some one in so called authority that they have failed, an audit of how western 'civilisation' is just not bothered - whatever your take is - just get out there and do it!!

Make your own art!

Please see:

Friday, 8 July 2011

Olympic Noise & Dust - Part 2012

Hi Robert

I hope that Hackney is being sufficiently environmentally well behaved of late – and not causing you & your team any extra work. I tried to contact you many times today - but the phone just rang & rang.

I’m writing on behalf of several residents concerned about recent noise & dust levels over the canal.


As a resident neighbour of the Olympic park – I am finding it increasingly difficult to hear myself think during the day – and have to blow my nose of disgusting gunk many times a day.

I’m aware that both the ODA & Thames Water are sharing Arena Fields for the foreseeable future – and we as lay neighbours have no way of distinguishing who is doing what. But that is slightly irrelevant – as all work is being carried out in the Olympic park – and as such – needs to be seen to by you.

The mission-creep I have spoken to you of many times - has returned in the now 7.30am trucks running along Arena Fields. The agreement was for an 8am start for heavy machinery to fire up their engines.

During the day – the noise levels are extremely high – and we urgently need your mobile noise monitoring team to come down & check their levels. (On that – please contact me for a key for the new lock – as somebody vandalised & stole the old lock & chain).


Of course no-one can predict the weather – least of all us gardeners. But a major construction site should have all manner of mitigating measures in place for any eventuality.

The ODA have a few bowsers trundling along the ring road every now & then – which I suppose is for their own drivers dust free journeys. All the dust lifting off and landing in our lungs is coming straight off the huge mounds of sand on Arena Fields.

Occasionally we have seen some kind of sprayer trying to dampen down the mounds – but not anywhere near enough! When you stand up on the riverbank – you can actually see the sand being blown across into Leabank Square. There is absolutely no attempt by the teams working right up against the electric fence to water any of their earth-works down at all.

All the neighbours I have spoken to have said that there has been a marked increase in dust inside our homes.

Robert – I really try to keep our correspondence down to reasonable levels – but things are building up to a peak again.

We all received the Thames Water flyer this morning about extended working hours on this & next weekend. I thought the agreement was for any extended working hours inside the Olympic park to be flagged up at least 2 weeks in advance – so that we can make some alternative arrangements for our noise & dust free evening meals? How did this arrangement slip through your normally tight net?

Leabank Square has always had the worst of all the Olympic construction by-products:

They chopped down our orchard & nuttery in Arena Fields.
The horrible soil washing plant was set up directly opposite us (initially planned to operate till 8pm!)
The intimidating electric fence was put up with intrusive CCTV cameras.
The temporary ring-road took more green space away.
The massive grey drab media centre was constructed directly in front of us.
The temporary welfare centre was plonked in front of us.
The temporary welfare centre was demolished.
The last trees were felled.
The water main is being dug up & replaced.
The massive temporary journo’s catering compound is being constructed directly in front of us.

Robert – there isn’t another part of the Olympic park that has had so many different activities happen in such a concentrated area. And as far as we can tell – this was all done with the bare minimum noise & dust mitigation.

No matter what readings their gadgets have given – we can hear the noise – and feel the dust – and both are way higher than any of our friends who do not live in Leabank Square quality of life.

I trust you will look into the concerns we have – and get back to me as soon as possible.

Dear Geoff Bailey

My name is Sóna Abantu-Choudhury and I live in Leabank Square in Hackney Wick.
This is directly opposite the new water mains you are busy laying along the Lea River Navigational Canal in the Olympic Park.

This morning we all received a flyer from you stating that you have received Hackney Council permission to work all the way through this & next weekend. Several of us residents have spent all day calling the number on your flyer - but had to listen to your music instead.

We all object to these new construction times in the strongest terms!!

The work you have been carrying out along the canal has been exceedingly difficult for us to bear for the past few months – and we’ve bared & grinned it – in the hope that you would just get on with it and finish the work as soon as possible.

This has obviously not happened!

This weekend we have planned an annual barbecue on our riverbank – for which we are frantically trying to contact as many residents as possible to postpone.

We had always had an agreement with the ODA that any weekend work would be given in writing to us at least 2 weeks in advance – so that this kind of thing simply cannot happen.

In addition to this – your workers have never ever seen fit to provide any kind of mitigation whatsoever while carrying out this pipe laying. There has never been an attempt to erect any sound barriers. There has never been an attempt to water down any of the sand & dust you create.

This is making our lives completely unbearable – and now you want to do it on the only days we have free to enjoy a barbecue.

Please reflect on all this – and get back to me with a suitable reply.


Sóna Abantu-Choudhury

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Movies on The River Lea!!

Tomorrow see the opening of the brilliant new (temporary) movie house in Hackney Wick!! And best of all - it's just downstream from Leabank Square!!!!!

There are going to be amazing activities from - great family movies - to bug-hotel building workshops. From family discos to drawing classes. And much much more!

Please come down to meet these lovely people - some of whom you already know from previous projects - who are making Hackney Wick that little bit extra special for all of us!

To book seats & find out more - please visit and then just have heaps of fun.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Planting Wildflowers for Mabley Meadow

A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped to plant up some seeds, for Mabley Meadow today.

Our good friend Chris King has asked us to plant up some wildflowers to add to the beautiful Mabley Meadow this autumn.

It was also great to meet our neighbour and newest Leabank gardeners, Justyna and Andy.
Thanks too to the old hands, Zoulla and Paul. Together we planted up some Betony, Agrimony, Cowslip and Teasel. We’re sure they’ll look stunning in the meadow later this year!

If you haven’t yet discovered Chris’ meadow, you can check out the details at And then meander over there in person to see everything in full colour.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Last chance to comment on 'Hackney Wick Hub'

Very many thanks to Ruth for posting this comment - please read it and act on it - it really does affect every single one of us:

The consultation on a major development around Hackney Wick station is to close this weekend and residents have just a couple more days to have their opinions heard.

Plans for more than 150 flats, several shops and retail units around a pedestrian area off Wallis Road, and a "hi-tech" hub of affordable workspaces has been proposed by landowners London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC).

At the end of May, the designers and architects behind the project came to the Wick for a couple of days to display and discuss the plans, and now the consultation is drawing to a close.

Any opinions and ideas need to be with them before the end of this weekend (Sunday June 19) because they intend to submit their planning application to Hackney Council on the June 24th, next Friday. Once they have planning application they will find a developer to buy the land.

Outline drawings and descriptions of the proposal are available on the corporation's website, here: (
) There is not lots of detail but it gives you an idea of where it will be and says there will retail units, including bars, restaurants, perhaps a bank, shops, and takeaways, 6000sqm of affordable workspaces, and more than 130 studio, one-bed, two-bed and three-bed flats.

Based on chats with the designers it also seems the idea is to have:

Affordable workspaces
The chief executive of the corporation which owns the land has said, in this interview with journalist Paul Norman, that they want to create a "hi-tech" hub for the business and people being priced out of Silicon Roundabout [Old Street] and Shoreditch.

"Something a little bit different"
The chief executive also said they wanted a developer who would do something a "little bit different" with the homes and leisure parts of the development and spoke praisingly of home-grown Wick projects like a recent opera in a warehouse. During the consultation visits, the architects/designers etc were very keen to emphasise their intention to do something a little bit different and make sure it was in keeping with Hackney Wick.
How can the development encourage something a little bit different? What does Hackney Wick want or need in terms of leisure?

No social housing
At the consultation it appeared that there would be no affordable rented accommodation (eg. social housing). This is because of concerns that there is no nearby space for kids/families to play - perhaps they see Vic Park, Hackney Marshes & the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as too far away?
There "may be" shared ownership housing for sale, but it was not definite.
Should there be affordable housing? Or is there enough in Hackney Wick already?

New shopping street
Some of the units for shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs are large - big enough for a chain shops like Tesco. If Hackney Wick didn’t want big chains, one option is to make the units relatively small in order to deter chains and make it affordable for independent traders or provide space for local creatives to sell their goods. However, the landowners point out that bigger units make the project more commercially viable for the developer.
At the moment the planning application does not specify any unit size in order to allow flexibility for the developer. Is that right?

What do you think...?

Email Thames Gateway Corporation ( to give your views on the Hackney Wick Hub before the consultation closes on Sunday June 19th.

And keep on eye on this blog to see what their final plans are and find out when Hackney Council will make a decision on the planning application.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Leabank Square Swans - Latest

Well - where do we start?!

It is just the 4 of them - Mum, Dad & the 2 cygnets. The other eggs were either smashed by some ignorant people - or were just not fertile.

It's probably just as well that the family isn't that much larger - as they still get a bit of hassle from some of the less disciplined kids (especially as it's half-term).

So they spend most of the day visiting brother, sisters & cousins further along at Windsor Wharf in Wick Village. (Just after Gainsborough School) Please take a walk along and see how many water fowl have started families in the last few weeks.

There are Mallard ducklings, Cootlings and a few more cygnets as well. They all seem to be getting on well enough with each other - considering all the protective mums & dads hovering around their little ones.

But what a lovely hour to spend! The nice folk in Wick Village operate a system of many eyes prevent anti-social behaviour - so encourage nice people to come & sit on their riverbank.

As for the Leabank Square Swans - well - we think that they will still use the nest as a bedroom overnight for a few more weeks. But Mum & Dad are teaching them great foraging skills further & further away from the nest - so they'll soon start spending nights away.

But in the meantime - please help them by keeping a vigilant eye out for their safety.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tim Webb RSPB visit to Leabank Square

We were very privileged to have Tim Webb – the Royal Society for Protection of Birds’ Communications Person ( have visit Leabank Square this morning.

He was very impressed with what everyone’s done with the Purple Garden – and even more happy with its attractiveness to birds.

He gave us brilliant advice about the swans, coots & he even discovered that heaps of the House Martins are actually nesting right here in Leabank Square – as well as next to in Gainsborough School.

Tim left some very useful leaflets about gardening in a way that lets nature deal with any pests you may have – so please shout if you want one.

Thanks for the visit Tim – you’re welcome back anytime!

Please Welcome our New Neighbours

Remember us writing about the House & Sand Martins yesterday? Well - they've just moved into Leabank Square!!

Just in time for the RSPB's Tim Webb's visit - and the House Martins started flying in with mouths full of mud. They've started building their incredible nests in the front canal blocks - under the eaves.

It is an amazing sight to see: they just don't stop flying in & out of Leabank Square with the mud. Occasionally they have a snack of mozzie & a sip of canal water - and then it's right back to building.

The only snag - is that these are the walls that the kids normally kick balls against. There is a really big possibility that some of the nests might get hit by the balls. Please could all responsible adults alert the kids to this fact if they see them kicking against the walls.

In the meantime - go & enjoy this annual spectacle - we are so lucky to have these African visitors!!

Leabank Square Swans - Are Family!!!!

This morning 2 of the swans eggs hatched!!

There are still 2 eggs left on the nest - but the proud parents are as chuffed as can be.

We were amazed at how quickly dad took his cygnets out on to the water!! They were fussed over for about 6 hours - and then nervously took to the inside of the floating island for about an hour.

Then both parents slipped off the nest into the canal - and coaxed the little ones over the rim & into the water as well. This 1st swim lasted only a few minutes.

This was repeated a few hours later - when dad took them to the opposite side of the canal for a bit of a foraging lesson. After about a half an hour they all 3 came back to the nest for some more fussing.

We will let you know about the 2 other eggs as soon as anything happens.