West Gorton Park is a newly created community park, designed not just as an important local recreational green space, but as a site that will help alleviate some of the negative effects of climate change.

The park was developed thanks to funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, part of the GrowGreen initiative. This European-wide scheme aims to aid climate resilience and bring social and health benefits, through green infrastructure and nature-based solutions.

The new park is part of a 10-year regeneration programme in the area, which has also seen the creation of 100 new homes, numerous shops, offices, and even TV film studios.

West Gorton Park was designed by landscape architects, BDP, who also worked closely with the local community to ensure that their ideas for the park were included.

Dubbed the “sponge park”, Gorton Park has been designed to help tackle the effects of climate change. Paths and hard surfaces are constructed of permeable paving to allow rainwater to percolate through to the ground. Ponds will soak up the water, with excess flowing into rain gardens. During periods of particularly wet weather, a network of channels will divert any water not absorbed by the soil and vegetation to irrigate plants in other areas.

OUR ROLE

idverde was the landscape construction contractor for the project, bringing a wide-range of expertise in delivering projects in public green spaces.

The landscape construction, commissioning and handover works comprised the creation of three main park areas, including installation of play areas, new pathways, sustainable drainage systems, seating areas, and boundary walls. Various highways works were also required, including highways crossing tables, footpaths, and traffic calming measures.

Specific tasks carried out by idverde included:

  • Clearance of existing features
  • Ground modelling and remediation
  • Reconstruct and form new footpaths
  • Creation of sustainable urban drainage features, including installing water monitoring and flow chambers
  • Creation of gullies to direct surface water from highways into park areas
  • Creation of bio-retention tree pits
  • Installation of permeable paved area with attenuation tanking beneath
  • Installing solar column lighting
  • Construction of play area and trim trail
  • Sensitive biodiverse soft landscaping planting
  • Lay wildflower and amenity turf to all areas
  • Street furniture including benches, bins, grow boxes, pergolas and rain harvest shelter
  • Refurbishment of boundary walling and install new timber sleeper walls and gabion wall seating
  • Interpretation display boards.

idverde is also providing ongoing grounds maintenance at the park for two years following completion of the project.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

West Gorton Park is intended to be a community green space, so idverde was keen to involve local people as the project developed.

We were pleased to be able to create two new full-time training and employment positions for local people, offering them the opportunity to learn hard and soft landscaping skills while working on the project.

idverde’s Biodiversity & Community Engagement Officer, Karl Horne, also had a vital role in the project. Working in partnership with Groundwork, which works nationally and locally to transform lives in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities, Karl regularly attended community group meetings to update local people on the project and to enable them to get involved in their new park.

Karl also organised community planting days, which saw over 1,000 bulbs planted by local people, and worked with nearby Manchester Academy High School to offer advice on horticultural and biodiversity projects.

RESULTS

West Gorton Park was formally opened in August 2020 in a ceremony attended by Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Cllr Luthfur Rahman, local residents and councillors, plus representatives from idverde and its partners who worked on the project.

Cllr Rahman said: “The creation of a brand new park is always an exciting occasion and, having been carefully designed in consultation with the local community, I’ve no doubt that the “Sponge Park” will be cherished by everyone who lives in West Gorton.”

idverde’s Biodiversity and Community Engagement Officer, Karl Horne, added: “A park like this is a vital hub for the community. idverde is extremely pleased to have been involved in this project, which has already benefited members of the local community with learning and development opportunities, as well as increasing biodiversity and having a positive environmental impact.

“We hope it will remain an important and much-loved part of the West Gorton community both now and for generations to come.”