A marriage of art, plants and movement

30,000 bulbs, 57 trees and 350 shrubs – described as a marriage of art, plants and movement. What’s behind the beautiful blooms?

The transformation of inner-city streets has seen businesses, commuters and residents return to previously congested streets in Sheffield (UK) city centre. Phase One of the Grey to Green scheme lead the way for new office and residential developments to support economic regeneration in the area. Phase Two of this innovative infrastructure scheme sees the continued implementation of plants to create new green solutions for the city. Prompted by the need to reduce flooding caused by impermeable surfaces, the people behind Sheffield’s Grey to Green have created a nature-based solution with wide reaching impact.

The Grey to Green scheme in Sheffield city centre has transformed 1.6km of redundant road space into attractive linear public spaces. Designed with multi-functional aspirations, the project aimed to increase urban biodiversity, create a wildlife corridor, mitigate climate change, improve wellbeing and economic investment. The attractive sustainable urban drainage system is focused on an area of the city blighted by flooding and located close to the city’s major waterway. In 2007 serve flooding in this area caused major disruption and economic damage. The reduction and slowing down of surface-water run off through the creation of permeable surfaces has not only reduced flood risk but simultaneously reduced water contamination and air pollution. This inspirational landscape scheme has been a stimulus and catalyst for further instrument in the area. Professor Nigel Dunnet of the University of Sheffield oversaw the creation of a sustainable solution through the use of varied planting schemes and innovative recycled materials. It includes perennial meadows, interlinked water features, rain gardens, public art and high quality paved footways and street furniture.

Taking more than 8 years to complete, the project has costed around £3.6m, and has been a partnership between many, including Sheffield City Council, Yorkshire Water (local utility company) and the European Regional Development Fund. The completion of Phase One and this year Phase Two has transformed the tarmacked areas into linear public green spaces. Monitoring has revealed an increase in cycling and walking, with 20% of those asked stating that they have changed their journey to include the beautified area. Alongside more people enjoying the space, is the increase in the food and drink retails offers with ventures returning to the area. After Phase One, the inner-city area saw an increase in new office and residential developments, a progress expected to continue with the project’s completion. From 30,000 bulbs a new future flourishes in Sheffield. The Grey to Green scheme is helping lay the foundations for a healthy, sustainable future Sheffield.

Learn more: Grey to Green – Sheffield

Francesca Boyd