The laneway festivals

A revitalised North Beach laneway. Photo: Lainey Smith

North Beach tradesman Neil Macleod was fed up of constantly picking up rubbish and beer bottles from his nearby laneway. Three years ago he began a personal project that has now become a neighbourhood attraction.

Laneways run throughout Perth’s Northern suburbs. A lack of care for these residential laneways has lead to some residents feeling a lack of safety and security in their homes.

“I use to find beer bottles all the time, there was some graffiti, it was once a place where not so good people met up at night and rattled the fences and disturbed the neighbours,” Neil Macleod says.

Neil Macleod describing what living by the laneway was like before he started his creative project.

Now the laneway is populated with hidden fairy castles, a Buzz Lightyear, and various native flora, and he wants to encourage others to make a difference to their local laneways.

“I don’t know where some of these things have come from, but I love that people feel comfortable to bring stuff themselves in this thing that started off as a little hobby as mine,” he says.

Some community members have criticised how the plants and figurines may obscure cyclists and scooter riders from utilising laneways.

However, Mr Macleod says many cyclists have told him they frequently steer away from their normal routes just to go through this particular laneway.

Neil Macleod talking about a local cyclist.

Former Scarborough resident Jessie Stewart says living next to a laneway directly motivated her family to move to a new home.

The laneway was essential for Jessie’s family to access their house, and she says problems stemmed from non-residents utilising the laneway for other activities.

Jessie Stewart standing in front of the laneway she use to live in. Photo: Lainey Smith

“The laneway attracted fast drivers and people drinking and all sorts,” she says.

“It wasn’t very nice to live near.”

Jessie describing her old laneway. Video: Lainey Smith

Neil Macleod says it took hard work and community spirit, but his laneway has changed in more ways than one.

“There’s no beer bottles anymore, the community seem to get around it and look after it,” he says.

Neil Macleod admiring his passion project. Photo: Lainey Smith

As the laneway is located nearby a school, it has become a popular local attraction amongst school kids as well as adults.

Mr Macleod hopes to host scavenger hunts in the future for the neighbourhood children.

North Beach artist Dee Jaeger says Neil’s efforts have brought a smile to a lot of faces, and people look forward to finding new things that are constantly being added by both Neil and other locals.

“Neil’s work on the lane has prompted others in a broader area to think about aesthetics and usage of their environment and neighbourhood, beyond their own fence line,” she says.

Another nearby resident Sally Simmonds says she can’t wait to bring her grandchildren here to see what they can find.

Sally Simmonds talking about the beauty of the laneway. Video: Lainey Smith

Earlier this year, Neil received a Community Citizen of the Year Award Nomination due to his efforts presented by Mayor of the City of Stirling Mark Irwin.

Neil Macleod pictured with his Community Citizen of the Year Award Nomination Certificate. Photo: supplied.

Mr Macleod says the laneway is there to be admired, and the flowers are there to be picked, and he’s hoping many more locals pop in on their next commute.