Case studies

Landlife wildflower planning, Anfield

Landlife is a registered environment charity, working mainly in urban and urban fringe areas, to bring nature and people closer together. By using simple wildflower mixes, based on common core species, Landlife aims to create wildlife areas which have sustainable links to their communities.

The large regeneration area adjacent to Anfield Football ground has a significant number of vacant properties and derelict sites where former terraced housing  has been demolished. Landlife has sewn annuals for colour in year one, and then in the following years allowed for perennial wildflowers to takeover. In terms of maintenance, simply a single cut each year by the neighbourhood community team is required. 

This scheme provides a low cost solution for improving the appearance of previously developed land (PDL) generating both social, economic, and environmental benefits.  The planting scheme has proven very popular with the remaining local community who appreciate the colours the flowers bring to the area, and on match days, the vibrant colours create a significantly improved impression of the regeneration area.

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Greenhead Moss Community Nature Park

Wishaw– biodiversity creation

This community managed project transformed a former landfill into a local nature reserve bringing significant biodiversity to the area.  This included:

  • Reversal in decline of a remnant raised bog
  • 13 hectares of new native woodland habitat
  • Soil importation to create areas of wildflower meadow
  • Wetland area suitable for the Great Crested Newts
  • Water quality improved in Perchy Pond Local Nature Reserve by a reed-bed filtration system to treat landfill leachate
  • Erection and monitoring of bird, bat and owl boxes.
  • Creation of dragonfly ponds to alleviate flooding in some areas
  • Opening up scree areas for lizard and snake populations
  • Ongoing site management planning for biodiversity, access and education.

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Rainton Bridge 

Fuel production

The aim of the BioReGen project (www.bioregen.eu) is to demonstrate the feasibility of reusing brownfield sites to grow biomass energy crops at a commercial scale on a variety of contaminated sites. Following successful results in pilot scale field trials in 2004-2006, a series of five 1 ha demonstration sites were established in 2007 with funding from the EU Life III Environment Programme and the Waste and Resources Action Programme.

The site is a 2 hectares vacant area of the Rainton Bridge Industrial Estate. Historic maps indicate that the land was in agricultural use until 1896 when it became a sewage farm until about 1979.

Site preparation included glyphosate spraying, ploughing and disking before amendment with source-segregated green waste compost (PAS100). Energy crops being trialed include: Willow short-rotation coppice (A), Miscanthus (B), reed canarygrass (C), and switchgrass (D).

             
Site before 2007                                                                        Mature biofuel crop, 2008

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Cronton Colliery restoration

The former Cronton Colliery site is located in the Borough of Knowsley in Merseyside where mining ceased in the early 1980s.

Early restoration saw the creation of two development plateaux and substantial woodland planting. The site was then acquired by English Partnerships and transferred to the North West Development Agency, who oversaw further phases of restoration, funded through English Partnerships National Coalfields Programme, including works to the watercourse and the removal of a redundant reservoir and lagoons.

As original ambitions to develop the site for hard-end use proved unsuccessful, an alternative Masterplan to develop the site as an informal country park was developed and agreed by key partners (the Land Restoration Trust, English Partnerships, the North West Development Agency, Knowsley MBC and the Forestry Commission) in 2006. Planning permission to develop the site as an informal country park was granted in May 2008.

The rationale for the project was based on observation of the site, where it appeared that former bare areas of spoil had re-vegetated and had developed an attractive semi-natural character which the Trust did not want to destroy.

The aim was to replicate this process on a more scientific basis, using PAS 100 green compost incorporated within the spoil surface to ameliorate spoil conditions sufficiently to establish a wildflower grassland sward on a permanent basis. One of the challenges was to add the appropriate quantity of green compost to allow the establishment of a permanent sward without encouraging the growth of pernicious weeds.

To date, the results appear to demonstrate that PAS 100 green compost can be used successfully to establish semi-natural grassland on bare colliery spoil, essentially by ameliorating its otherwise hostile chemical conditions. The green compost was the critical additional factor that explained the difference between the areas that established successfully and those that failed to establish.

The trials also demonstrated that this is an extremely cost effective approach. To import sub-soil and spread to a depth of 150mm would cost approximately £2.25 per square metre or £22,500 per hectare using a conventional approach. In contrast, importing PAS 100 compost, spreading to 30mm depth and incorporating it within the top 120mm of spoil cost £0.28 per square metre or £2,800 per hectare, a saving of approximately 88%. In addition, it made use of a recycled, local source of material, and kept disruption to the site and to local people to a minimum.

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Glan Morfa Community Woodland

Social benefits

Glan Morfa is a former Council tip reclaimed for community use and habitat creation by the local Residents’ Association. It has achieved real community benefits. High quality footpaths now link the site with other parts of the town, schools and long distance footpath to Rhyddlan, increasing the number of people able to enjoy site.

The site has been secured, preventing stolen cars being driven there and set fire to, a frequent problem in the past. The use of motorbikes on the site is reduced, the increased use of the site, and the fact that the paths are now flat and tarmaced (all comply with the Disability Discrimination Act), means that they are not challenging for motorbike riders and therefore of limited interest. The project has benefited from having young people involved through training schemes for groups from the probation service and skill build course.

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Lee Quarry

Existing landscapes and adding value to local economies and communities

This project, turning an ex-quarry into bike trails, generated a considerable amount of local involvement, which is continually growing. It has made use of a landscape affected by historic extraction activity to create a scheme of economic and landscape value for the area.

Local enthusiasts have set up a club called the Brownbacks (the old nick name given to quarry workers locally) which organises cross country mountain bike races. Local people are adopting ownership of the site, as can be seen from social networking sites appearing on the internet.

Volunteering opportunities are at the heart of developing the event programme for the site and it is also recognised that volunteering has a key role to play in site maintenance and improvement. In order to build on this the project is working with Accrington and Rossendale College and UCLAN to create a range of volunteering opportunities and link these with training and skills programmes (up to and including degree level) in order to create a developmental pathway for local people inspired by the project.

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Beardmore Park

Multifunctional space

Communities within the East End of Glasgow identified Beardmore Park site as one of the most prominent local eyesores in the City Council’s ‘2001 East End Eyesores’ report.  Further to this the need to transform vacant and derelict land into open space was highlighted in the East End Social Inclusion Partnership’s ‘Towards a Development Strategy’.

The transformation of the derelict land into a vibrant, multi functional play and open space area is major achievement. The park now contains play areas for all age groups, events space and garden spaces for rest and relaxation.

As the project has developed over time the local community has become instrumental in advocating for changes to the layout within the park. This has included an additional self-closing gate to the toddlers play area to protect planted areas, additional barrier protection and the introduction of football equipment.

There is continued partnership working between community and the City Council. The project emphasises the value of community ownership and there is growing confidence amongst the community that they have a pivotal role in sustaining the park. It also highlights the value of the commitment of the local authority in taking the views of the community on board and where possible acting upon them.

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The Helix, Falkirk 

Integration of art kelpie sculpture

The Helix site covers some 300 hectares of land that extends the length of the eastern boundary of the Falkirk urban area and western boundary of Grangemouth.  The area is fragmented and severed by major infrastructure, but includes community woodland, wetlands, grazing land and the Forth and Clyde canal. 

The Helix scheme connects these open spaces and creates a green heart at the centre of a new metropolitan area.  The scheme aims to reconnect people, making space for communities, creating a destination for visitors, celebrating the cultural past and delivering world class art. Iconic art works of international standing are planned to attract visitors to the site and to inspire individuals and communities to express themselves creatively. The Kelpies, two major structures in the shape of horse’s heads, positioned near the new canal entrance, are due to be installed in 2012.

Open spaces can provide venues for meeting and performing as well as learning and enjoyment. Approached with thought and reference to local customs and interests, including direct engagement with the relevant communities, an open space project can have a particular value for promoting cultural activity, often at little or no cost. Internet searches on local authority web sites show up how open spaces are used across the UK for hosting activities including for example, in Glasgow, the Southside Festival, hosted in Queens Park, which celebrates life on the south side of the City and its cultural diversity and community spirit.

There are many opportunities for promoting cultural activity and for placing open spaces at the heart of communities. www.loveparksweek.org.uk, a website hosted by the charity Greenspace, describes a range of events, including rock concerts, brass bands, children’s parties, dog shows, food festivals, crafts fairs, history walks, art in the park, children’s archaeological digs, literature festivals, and more. 

This all proves that there are considerable opportunities for promoting cultural activity and for placing open spaces at the heart of communities.

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Connswater Community Greenway

Integrating previously developed land

The Connswater Community Greenway is a £32 million investment in East Belfast. The project has been developed by the East Belfast Partnership and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council and the Department for Social Development.

The Connswater Community Greenway will create a 9km linear park through East Belfast, following the course of the Connswater, Knock and Loop Rivers, connecting open spaces, previously developed land (PDL) and remediating the Connswater River.

The project involves the creation of a civic square and transforming previously underused, inaccessible, unsafe and unconnected sites for the communities in their hinterland.

Historically, the local community has turned their back on the river. This Project will deliver new benefits from the Castlereagh Hills to Belfast Lough and beyond, creating a community asset that will become an immediate living landmark.

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