Greater Manchester Green City Region. Creating a greener, greater city region differently

GrowGreen West Gorton

GrowGreen: Greater Manchester is getting greener!

Before Christmas, we were invited to visit the GrowGreen project over in West Gorton. GrowGreen is a European environmental research project, looking at how incorporating nature-based solutions in our landscapes can help to combat the effects of climate change, particularly flooding and heat stress in cities.

 

GrowGreen is an €11m EU-funded project running for five years, having started in June 2017 and finishing in May 2022, and has 22 partners across Europe and one in China.

 

In Manchester, the regenerated area of West Gorton was selected as the site for a new park which incorporates nature-based solutions. The park, close to the Manchester Climbing Centre, is spread out over an area approximately the size of three football pitches.

 

We went over to West Gorton to take a peep!

 

Paving the way for nature

The GrowGreen Park is divided into three distinctive areas –

 

  1. The woodland – filled with tree-lined pathways around open spaces for games and recreation, and includes play features such as slides, swings and a basketball court area.
  2. The meadow – which will be full of wildflowers and brimming with biodiversity and colour. It will also include an orchard area with fruit trees and areas for relaxation, including picnic benches and seating areas.
  3. The community area – this space has community growing areas where edible and decorative plants can be grown, giving people from the surrounding community a place to get together. There will also be an open paved area, with permeable paving which can be used for markets, music, theatre and other events.

Tree planting in West GortonEach of these areas has been specially designed to bring something unique to the space, for the benefit of people, wildlife and the environment. 

 

In addition to being a community park, this is ‘a park that drinks water’. Nature-based solutions in the park are designed to slow down the speed at which rain drains in to the existing drainage system by directing it through different channels. One such nature-based solution is the ‘swale’. Swales are landscaped trenches in the ground that store water and are just one of many nature-based solutions which can help to slow rainfall runoff. Other nature-based solutions include rain gardens, bio-retention tree pits, and permeable paving.

 

Water from the surrounding highways is also being redirected from the highway and into the nature-based solutions in the park. This is part of the research element of the project and is the first time that water has been directed from the highway into one of the city’s parks.

 

The research work

The impact that these nature-based solutions are having on rainwater management and flooding is being studied by the University of Manchester, which is using sensors and field studies to measure the effects of the nature-based solutions in the park. The university is studying the park’s effect on air temperature, ground temperature, biodiversity, and people’s health and well-being.

 

Working with the community

The design for the park has been developed by BDP Architects who, with the environmental charity Groundwork, worked closely with the local community to include their ideas in the final park design.

 

Since 2017 the GrowGreen project has engaged with the local community, researching how they use and value green spaces in the area, and listening to their concerns about climate change. The GrowGreen project aims to show the value of nature-based solutions while also increasing awareness and understanding of climate change at a local level.

 

Community engagement activities will continue into 2020 as the project build continues. The highly anticipated park in West Gorton is expected to be completed in spring 2020. Watch this space to find out what the local community of Manchester think of the end result!

 

Find out more information about the GrowGreen project.

Visit the main Platform site