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!
12 acres of parkland at the heart of campus
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.
As you may have noticed, the first steps towards creating the Green Heart are fully underway in University Square. The former library is quickly coming down and on track to be completed in October. This is the first the major stage of phase one of development from August 2017 – January 2018.
But, are you prepared and clued up on the next stage of landscaping?
In early August, the section of University Square closest to the Arts Building and the former library will be cordoned off by mesh hoardings until January 2018. Accessibility around this site will be maintained throughout the works with the installation of temporary ramps 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, the 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.
Phase 1 of landscaping
What’s that mound of earth behind the new Library? We can reassure you that we are not building our own sand dunes on campus, nor is it a modern art installation. It is actually yet another way in which the Green Heart is living up to its green credentials.
As we begin to landscape the Green Heart this July, we will lay 12,750m2 of grass area including turf, wild flower meadow and seeding before completion in 2019. To that end, the earth mound behind the Library is specifically a large pile of topsoil. This has come from the old sports fields which are currently being redeveloped into new 4G sports pitches.
Rather than waste the soil from those pitches, we have moved it to behind the Library for storage, until it can be re-purposed under the Green Heart’s new lawns. Through cross project team collaboration, we’ve boosted both project’s sustainability and saved money by not sending the soil away and, when the time was right, bringing it all back again. In numbers, we’re saved around 4,300m3, that’s about 500 lorry loads, going off-site only to come back again later at a price. Pretty clever.
Bit difficult to take an ‘interesting’ photo of a construction site… so here’s a digger at the sport pitches
I’m Sally Xerri-Brooks, and I’m the Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Manager for major capital projects on campus. The Green Heart is one of the most significant areas I work on, so I spend a lot of time thinking about it and supporting its development. I do this by engaging with staff and students, as well as the local community. I work closely with the Estates department and contractors carrying out the all-important work to make the Green Heart a reality and I help make sure people know what is happening at each point in the project.
Every day I attend a range of meetings with key people across the University and across the city. I also get to go on site and see crucial bits of landscaping and building work as it happens, which I really enjoy. I make sure we have pictures and progress reports that I can share with everyone who is affected by the work.
I cannot wait for the Green Heart to be completed. One of the things I am really looking forward to is seeing the water features when they are in place. The consultation with staff and students told us that there was a real desire to get moving water onto campus to create flow and relaxation on campus. Ultimately, I’m looking forward to seeing the space used and people gaining holistic benefit from it. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.”
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!
High five friends for car sharing
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.