The Brighton High Line?

So why not a Brighton High Line at Madeira Drive?

Flying high above New York City’s Meatpacking district is the High Line. You’ll have heard of it – it’s in the top 5 most Instagrammed sites in the world, receives over 7 million visitors a year. The cost was $273m. The additional tax revenues alone are estimated at $900m, with some $2bn additional local economic activity.

According to GreenPlay LLC, “The High Line district (including the Chelsea neighborhood), long back-on-its-heels, is now one of the hottest markets for upscale residential, retail, and office-center development.

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A recent visit by Building Green left us even more impressed than we expected to be. Run entirely by a Trust and a volunteer workforce, the place was packed with happy, strolling visitors. Gardeners moved through the planting, leaving wafts of mint and other fragrances in the wake of their secateurs. There were shops and stalls – all profits back to the Trust – as well as public art, recliners and all around the activity of cranes and new development in progress. As the sign on a new apartment block put it “Think the High Line is Cool? Check out our Roof Deck and no fee rentals“.

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Now to Brighton. We already have a high line – it’s Madeira Terraces, created by the Victorians for similar motives to the modern New Yorkers. Work is underway to source funding for their repair and restoration, and we have the marvellous backdrop of the Madeira Drive Green Wall for visitors to enjoy again in future as they walk the regenerated seafront.

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But what if the terrace deck itself was greened? Planted with attractive, fragrant and salt tolerant plants that were a reason for walking the terrace itself? The terrace as a destination, not just a roof for new businesses or a viewing platform for occasional events? It can be done technically. It has access including a mid-level lift at the Concorde. It may well provide an additional avenue for funding, and add value to the offer the restored terraces provide through increased footfall, marketability and environmental quality.

What do you think? Here at Building Green, we will be promoting this vision and encouraging the Council to adopt it. Can you help? Here’s a collage that provides some food for thought.

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Ton up! Over 100 species found at Madeira Drive Green Wall

Building Green’s intrepid survey squad spent last weekend under the terraces at Madeira Drive. Armed with clipboards and Bob the Builder hats, we surveyed the extent and health of the green wall, and updated the list of plants and other wildlife found there.

The results are in. Ton up! We have now broken the 100 species barrier…104 species of plant to be exact…and found a number of other wildlife using the wall that we hadn’t seen before. We counted 117 trunks of 150 year old Japanese Spindle – not including the plants at Duke’s Mound further East, or those in the planters on the terrace itself.

This really strengthens the case to designate this wall a ‘local wildlife site’ in the Council’s forthcoming City Plan. It would be the only green wall site of importance for nature conservation in the UK, and deserves this recognition.

Here is the full list of species. Interesting finds include Japanese Holly Fern, shown below, Hoary Stock, and Holly Blue and Painted Lady butterflies.

Big thanks to our volunteers, and to the Council for the PPE and access.

Download a PDF of the surveyMadeira Drive Green Wall Plant Species List 12.09.2017

Species list from survey 12 September 2017

Scientific Name Common Name
Faunal Records  
Vulpes vulpes Fox
Passer doemesticus House sparrow
Prunella modularis Dunnock
Parus major Great tit
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren
Columba livia Wood pigeon
Turdus merula Blackbird
Celastrina argiolus Holly blue
Vanessa cardui Painted lady
Vanessa atalanta Red admiral
Meles meles Honey bee
Bombus lucorum White tailed bumblebee
   
Bryophytes  
Barbula cylindrical  
Barbula sardoa  
Barbula unguiculata  
Didymodon tophaceus  
Didymodon luridus  
Didymodon rigidulus  
Rhynchostegiella tenella  
Tortula muralis  
   
Vascular Plants  
Acer pseudoplatanus Sycamore
Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Agrostis stolonifera Creeping bent
Anisantha sterilis Barren brome
Anthriscus caucalis Bur chervil
Anthriscus sylvestris Cow parsley
Arctium minus Lesser burdock
Asplenium adiantum-nigrum Black spleenwort
Avena sativa Common oat
Ballota nigra Black horehound
Bellis perennis Daisy
Berberis darwinii Darwin’s barberry
Brassica rapa Turnip
Buddleja davidii Butterfly bush
Campanula porscharskyana Trailing bellflower
Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd’s purse
Carex pendula Pendulous sedge
Catapodium marinum Sea fern grass
Catapodium rigidum Hard fern grass
Centranthus ruber Red valerian
Cerastium fontanum Common mouse-ear
Chenopodium album Fat-hen
Crithmum maritimum Rock samphire
Cirsium arvense Creeping thistle
Cirsium vulgare Spear thistle
Clematis vitalba Traveller’s joy
Convolvulus arvensis Field bindweed
Conyza canadensis Canadian fleabane
Coronopus squamatus Greater swinecress
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora Monbretia
Cymbalaria muralis Ivy-leaved toadflax
Cyrtomium falcatum House Holly Fern
Dactylis glomerata Cock’s-foot
Digitalis purpurea Foxglove
Diplotaxis muralis Annual wall rocket
Epilobium ciliatum American willowherb
Epilobium hirsutum Great willowherb
Erigeron glaucus Seaside daisy
Erigeron karvinskianus Mexican fleabane
Erysimum cheiri Wallflower
Euonymus japonicus Japanese spindle
Ficus carica Fig
Galium aparine Cleavers
Genista hispanica Spanish gorse
Geranium molle Dove’s-foot crane’s-bill
Geum urbanum Wood avens
Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus Eastern gladiolus
Hedera helix Englsh ivy
Hemerocallis fulva Orange day-lily
Hordeum murinum Wall barley
Hyacinthoides hispanica Spanish bluebell
Hypochaeris radicata Cat’s ear
Lactuca serriola Prickly lettuce
Linaria purpurea Purple toadflax
Lolium perenne Perennial ryegrass
Malva sylvestris Common mallow
Malva x clementii Garden tree mallow
Matthiola incana Hoary stock
Melilotus officinalis Ribbed melilot
Narcissus pseudonarcissus cv. Garden daffodil
Onopordum acanthium Cotton thistle
Parietaria judiaca Pellitory-of-the-wall
Pentagottis sempervirens Blue alkanet
Phyllitis scolopendrium Hart’s-tongue fern
Picris echioides Bristly ox-tongue
Picris hieracioides Hawkweed ox-tongue
Plantago coronopus Stag’s-horn plantain
Plantago lanceolata Ribwort plantain
Plantago major Greater plantain
Poa annua Annual meadow grass
Polypodium vulgare Common polypody
Rubus fruticosus Blackberry
Rumex crispus Curled dock
Rumex obtusifolius Broad-leaved dock
Sagina apetela Annual pearlwort
Sagina procumbens Procumbent pearlwort
Sambucus nigra Elder
Sedum acre Biting stonecrop
Sedum album English stonecrop
Senecio cineraria Silver ragwort
Senecio viscosus Stick ragwort
Senecio vulgaris Groundsel
Silene alba White campion
Sisybrium officinale Hedge mustard
Sisybrium orientale Oriental rocket
Smyrmium olusatrum Alexanders
Solanum dulcamara Bittersweet
Sonchus asper Prickly sow-thistle
Sonchus oleraceus Smooth sow-thistle
Sonchus arvensis Perennial sow-thistle
Spergularia marina Lesser sea spurrey
Stellaria media Common chickweed
Taraxacum officinale agg. Dandelion
Triticum aestivum Bread wheat
Urtica dioica Common nettle
Veronica x franciscana Hedge veronica

New study highlights importance of green wall plant choices for air quality benefits

The study by the UK Green Wall Centre in Staffordshire looked at this green wall at New Street station, Birmingham.

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It found ‘promising potential for removal of atmospheric PM (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10). The researchers noted that careful species selection is crucial to optimize living walls as PM filters. ‘Smaller-leaved species, hairy leaf surfaces and [waxy leaves] enhance the PM capture potential of living wall-plants.’

For more, go here.

 

Save Madeira Terraces – £160k raised so far, £270k to go!

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Have you donated yet to the ‘Save Madeira Terrace’ campaign?

The campaign has now raised over £160,000 from more than 700 local people and businesses who are committed to preserving its future – as well as celebrating its past. Minimum donation is £2. Please spread the word and share this link: Spacehive – Save Madeira Terrace

Madeira Drive A5 leaflet Building Green 1509

Survey squad needed!

Next Saturday 9 September, a survey squad will be making an assessment of the green wall at Madeira Drive. We have space for volunteers.

An important part of our seafront heritage, the green wall is home to at least 99 species of wild plant, and is the longest green wall in Europe.

 

The squad will be counting the number of Japanese spindle trees – planted in c1870 – taking measurements, and assessing the health of the green wall that runs from Duke’s Mound in the East, and west along Madeira Drive.

We have space for a couple of volunteers so if you’re interested drop us a line here, via the ‘contact us’ page..

Saturday 9 September 2017, from 1pm. Meet at Duke’s Mound.

If you just want to come along and say hi, then do that too!

Building Green – the Bible

Tucked away on the resources section of the Building Green website is a broken link that tells the story of how this group came about.

London Ecology Unit published a highly influential book in 1993 called ‘Building Green – A guide to using plants on roofs, walls and pavements’. It was a prescient tome – heralding techniques and approaches from across Europe and the world that came established only years later in the UK, Building Green was a systemic, ecological approach to urban nature. It became the name of our community group.

When at the Greater London Authority, I created an electronic version of the out of print manuscript – the broken link referred to. Well, here it is in all its free, downloadable glory. Go crazy.

Johnstone and Newton – Building Green

In particular note the appendices which list plants for different locations – walls of different aspects, balconies, roofs etc. Check it out, it’s great – all credit to the originators Jacklyn Johnston and John Newton.

Save Madeira Terrace!

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Help us restore our iconic arches to their former glory! We will save this historical structure from falling into disrepair, in the process creating a new lively quarter for Brighton.

Save Madeira Terrace  is a crowdfunding campaign launched on 26 June and running until  30 Nov 2017 by which time it needs to raise £432,598.

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Brighton & Hove Building Green is a partner in this project, as the terraces sit hand in glove with Europe’s longest, oldest green wall.

Madeira Drive A5 leaflet Building Green 1509