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Urban wilding projects awarded £330k by Westminster Council to turn pockets of London into wildlife havens

Image of the onion garden with a greenhouse in the background

The Onion Garden, Victoria, London

Greening Westminster is an annual grant programme which encourages schools, charities, and local organisations across Westminster to submit applications with ideas on how to improve green spaces within their areas. The Council will award £330,000 of funding to projects in 2024; each applicant can apply for up to £50,000. 

The funding will be used by residents to create new communal green spaces in their own communities. Successful Greening Westminster projects have included Lisson Green Estate Community Allotments, St John’s Church Yard in Kensal Green, and the Onion Garden in Victoria.

The “Onion Garden” is in a small courtyard behind Westminster City Council’s City Hall building in Victoria. Once a desolate corner of not much more than concrete, Chief Onion Jens Jakobsen has transformed the space into a haven for wildlife – decorated with onions.

To support this project as part of its Greening Westminster initiative, Westminster City Council has invested £24,551 into the garden to support the growing of over 150 plant species and enhance the biodiversity of the area.

The garden was set up by Jens to encourage new wildlife like herbs, wildflowers, and fruit trees to flourish central parts of London.

Jens Jakobsen, Founder of the Onion Garden said:

"The Onion Garden has benefitted extensively from the collaboration with Greening Westminster.  The money has been used to purchase gardening equipment, trees, and plants to transform an unloved, concrete corner into a green oasis of calm and enchantment, open to all. The next phase of the Greening Westminster collaboration is to turn The Onion Garden into the highly anticipated "Hanging Gardens of Westminster”.  Along with a new café (with its observation beehive) and the orangery, it will be transformed into a magical garden and an amazing events space open to everyone.  The Onion Garden is available for educational purposes, lectures, and other joyful gatherings for the entire community; paying events will cross-subsidise not-for-profit gatherings.  Thanks to this collaboration, not a day goes by without someone new discovering the space, which invariably brings a huge smile to my face.”


Cllr Ryan Jude, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology and Culture said:

We have declared an ecological emergency in Westminster. Projects like the Onion Garden are brilliant for enhancing the biodiversity of the city; bringing back important wild species which help our air quality, plant life and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. I’m pleased to share that we will be awarding £330,000 in funding to organisations that want to create green areas - from small planters to community allotments and wildlife havens.”

Cllr Geoff Barraclough, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development said:

Greening projects are not only good for our environment, but they are also good for our economy. We plan to build a city for the future which creates good jobs and becomes an even better place to live and work. This programme will support organisations to deliver the ideas they know will work best in their local areas, whether that be in a school playground, a health centre or in a local estate. I encourage everyone to apply for Greening Westminster funding to bring their projects to life and make their patch a little greener.”

Applications for Greening Westminster are open now from Wednesday 21 February and will close on Monday 22 April 2024.

Organisations can apply for funding on the Council’s website.

Notes to editors:

The Greening Westminster programme will support projects that:

  • Identify stub roads that are suitable for new green spaces. 
  • Support biodiversity in the West End.
  • Strengthen the role of voluntary sector and community groups in leading the green transformation of their neighbourhoods. 
  • Increase space for walking and cycling. 
  • It will take up to four weeks for applications to be reviewed and feedback provided, and "professional" applications require at least 20% partner funding.

Published: 13 March 2024