Accessibility in University Square

Landscaping the first phase of University Square is now thoroughly underway with hoardings constructed, trees protected and old paving pulled up ready for the installation of sparkly new slabs (please note: they won’t actually be sparkly!) In November, we will be bringing an array of new trees to the site for planting.

Green Heart landscaping Aug 17 - Jan 18

Phase 1 of landscaping

But, as a result, many of the old pathways have now become inaccessible. To ensure that everyone can navigate around University Square safely and easily, temporary pathways and ramps have been constructed. All these routes will be clearly signposted. The diagram below outlines there location.

We have worked with colleagues with specific accessibility needs to guarantee that they are prepared for the changes. If you have any specific requirements or concerns around accessibility due to disability or visual impairment, please email the Green Heart team at greenheart@contacts.bham.ac.uk and we will be happy to help.

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New pathway

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Please read the signs

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New ramp

What to expect in University Square

Excitement is building around the landscaping now taking place in University Square. The area nearest to the Arts Building has now been cordoned off and all existing trees have been encircled with protective barriers to prevent any damage. But, what will the end result look like?

There’s lots of ways to get a sneak peak of what’s to come across our channels… you can watch our online animation or, take a 360 Virtual Reality tour. If you want a more in-depth idea of what to expect, the image below carefully details the precise layout of all the new trees and pavements of the final University Square design.

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University Square after landscaping

Green heart analysis - KEY

Key

Trees and the Green Heart

In recent days, University Square has been transformed in preparation for Green Heart landscaping. This has included the removal of 10 trees.

But why are you removing trees?

We can reassure you that the removal of these specific trees was well informed. The proposals for the development of the Green Heart were based on the findings and recommendations of an arboricultural impact assessment, and the design was developed with careful consideration to minimise the impact on campus’ important trees and to enhance tree cover and diversity across the site. This has been carefully scrutinised by the tree officer at Birmingham City Council and our proposals for this development have been granted planning approval.

Of the 216 trees assessed on campus, 72 were identified for removal (20 were categorised as being of moderate quality, 52 were categorised as being of low quality; including those in University Square). But, 144 trees will be retained and integrated. We will also plant 160 new trees! The vast majority of trees extracted needed to be removed regardless of whether the Green Heart went ahead. To minimise impact, we have ensured that this work has been supervised by a qualified ecologist (after bird nesting season), and root protection and construction exclusion zones are now being erected around existing trees in preparation for landscaping. To enhance sustainability, logs from the trees removed are being retained and will form a new habitat to the north of the Green Heart to encourage additional species of animals and insects to live on campus.

To ensure that the Green Heart is visually striking, the 160 new trees we are planting will be of different growth rates, from semi-mature to mature, from 5-7 metres in height. They are currently being lovingly cared for in a nursery under the supervision of key members of the project team.

Find out more details about trees and the Green Heart.

It’s National Parks Week

Did you know that today is the first day of National Parks Week? This week raises awareness of the National Parks annual celebration of everything that is unique and wonderful about our 15 National Parks. The UK’s National Parks include the Broads, New Forest, Exmoor and Snowdonia, each boasting their own special habitat and exciting family adventures. Our Parks are a place of peace, Britain’s breathing spaces, in an increasingly hectic, urban landscape. Perhaps it’s time you and your family recuperated and got out in nature?

The Green Heart’s 12 acres certainly won’t be able to compete with the likes of the New Forest, at a staggering 140,000 acres but, its aim is the same. We want to bring you a calm, serene and relaxing natural environment right at the heart of our country’s second city’s urban environment. We want it to be your oasis of escape, on your doorstep. With increased shade, new water features, improved sitting and lush grass areas, you’ll be able to unwind with ease.

So start looking forward to bringing your picnic in 2019 now; it’ll fly by!

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12 acres of parkland at the heart of campus

One of the UK’s best green spaces

Our Edgbaston campus has been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme as one of the very best green spaces in the world!

The University is among a record-breaking 1,797 UK parks and green spaces that will today receive a prestigious Green Flag Award; the mark of a quality park or green space. This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

Our stunning grounds are maintained by a 38 strong team of dedicated Grounds staff. They’re the first team on campus at 06:00am and are responsible for managing, beautifying and improving every inch of our 250 acre campus. One of their greatest achievements is developing a huge recycling and waste initiative.

Their next challenge will be helping to create the Green Heart, adding another 12 acres to our Green Flag campus. After a busy summer, the Grounds team will be planting over 100 new trees in the space including apple, cherry, beech, oak and maple.

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UoB’s Grounds and Gardens Team

Revamp your commute

Let’s be honest, before the recent hit show starring Peter Kay, had you ever thought about car sharing?  Probably not, but our guest blog from the Universities Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator Peter Edwards is here to change that.

The University is growing fast, with new buildings and projects popping up all over the place to improve the learning, teaching and leisure experience on campus. With perhaps the most exciting, of course, being the Green Heart. With this growth comes disruption to car parking, such as the closure of North Car Park after 13 July.  One potential solution to ease the pressure on car parking is to reduce the number of cars on campus.

Did you know our travel survey showed that there are loads of us living round the corner from each other driving on our own; maybe it’s time to get a travel buddy?

The University has a car sharing platform called Liftshare which acts as a car matching service for staff. Simply sign up, enter your location and working hours, and we will try to match you to other drivers in your area. Once you have a team, you’re eligible for a special permit which gives you access to 20 priority car parking spaces around campus.

Car sharing may not be suitable for everyone, and Liftshare may not be as sexy as Tinder but, we promise that you will probably have more success! It’ll save you money, time and stress, so why not sign up today? You never know, you might even make a friend!

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High five friends for car sharing

Ready, steady… landscape!

The first steps towards creating the Green Heart that will transform the centre of campus pick up pace next month. You may have already noticed lots more activity around the former library, this is because we are now taking down two buildings that comprise the structure. Demolition work will be carried out between 08:00 and 17:00 on weekdays, however there is a chance that some work may take place on weekends. The entire building will be taken down and completed in October.

When it comes to making the space a green oasis, the first two phases of landscaping will take place from September 2017 – January 2018, and then February – June 2018, in University Square. The section of University Square closest to the Arts Building and the former library will be transformed from July, with the section closest to Staff House focused on from November. As a result, areas of University Square will be cordoned off at different times, and mesh hoardings will be erected in early August.

Accessibility around the landscaping site will be maintained throughout the works with the installation of temporary ramp systems and new pathways. This will ensure that everyone can navigate the new routes easily and safely.

To help you navigate the changes, look out for directional signage in University Square, Arts Building and Muirhead Tower. Make sure you follow us on Twitter for the latest updates and, check out our new landscaping webpage for weekly building reports.