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.

Building Green web

 

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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

Crowdfunding launch today – Madeira Terraces

Building Green are attending the launch of the Crowdfunding appeal for Madeira Terraces today. This will be key to securing the ‘proof of concept’ for the restoration of the Victorian terraces, which are integral to the status of the Madeira Drive Green wall.

The Council says that the crowdfunding is a way to kick start this process.  “It will:

Provide restored and rejuvenated new arches to show just how tremendous and beautiful the restored project could be

Allow us to test restoration methods and take apart the structure to investigate the ways in which it can most cost effectively be restored

Provide a new focal point – a show case or “show home” for the bigger project and a way to attract in commercial and external funding for the wider project.”

Building Green will continue to work with the Council and partners to press for and advise on the protection and restoration of the living wall which pre-dates and is integral with the Terraces.

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A visit to Max Miller Walk, Madeira Drive

Building Green was asked to advise on some leaks above Concorde 2 recently, which meant a rare trip to Max Miller walk via the Victorian lift in the building. I managed to get a nice pic of the fish detail on the drainpipe – this is one of the cast iron supports for the terrace…no wonder there are rust and decay issues!

The walk – and the Madeira Terraces – have been closed for some time due to safety fears.

The future of Maderia Drive – it’s in all our hands…and an important clue

Building Green attended an important first meeting about the future of Madeira Drive recently.

The Council hosted the meeting, and invitees included a number of community organisations like ours, local businesses, interested residents and others. There were some big names in the room, which bodes well for the level of interest in regenerating the neglected East Brighton seafront.

Building Green spoke about the value and importance of the Madeira Drive Green Wall, which contributes vital natural heritage alongside the built heritage of the seafront. We will be offering the expertise the support of our volunteers to ensure the green wall is protected and enhanced as part of any future development.

The meeting discussed the new crowdfunding appeal – to be launched soon – plans and suggestions for future development, and ‘meanwhile’ uses to bring much needed life, recreation and business activity to Madeira Drive.

On our way to the meeting, we stopped off at the Fishing Museum and found a woodcut that offers an important clue to the founding of the green wall. For some time, Building Green has been looking for evidence of when the wall was first planted (with Japanese Spindle). Our hunch was that it was earlier than 1880, though the only documentary evidence points to 1882 (JB Evison 1969 ‘Gardening by the sea’). Well, I know you’re holding your breath, so…the woodcut print was published in 1872 and seems to show evenly spaced shrubs planted along the footing of the cliff. How exciting!

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For a full history of our wonderful Madeira Drive, visit our unique page.

Who’s got the biggest green wall?

Is this a very male question? Maybe, but I was struck by the claims from the National Grid that their new car park green wall is the largest in Europe! Is our very own Madeira Drive green wall bigger and better?

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National Grid car park, Warwick

The National Grid boasts “a living wall of 1027 sq.m, making this Europe’s largest. The Living wall is home to over 97,000 plants of over 20 different species“. Undoubtedly impressive stuff.

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Madeira Drive’s green wall by comparison – planted by the Victorians along the East Cliff in c1880 – was approximately 20 metres high and 1.2 kilometres long when at its very best in the 1980s. 24,000 m2 in extent.

Now, substantially diminished with gaps where plants have died and not been replaced, the wall is – and I’m guessing here – very approximately a quarter of its former extent. Still 6000 m2 though!

Building Green and the Ecology Consultancy surveys have found 100 species of plant on the wall.

So sorry, National Grid – it appears our green wall is bigger than yours after all!

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Maybe we need to amend the flyer now to say ‘The oldest and longest green wall in Europe!’.

Make a little bird house in your soul – another successful green roof course!

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Happy green roofers – with Building Green and Organic Roofs

Building Green and Organic Roofs hosted another crew of enthusiastic eco warriors in May, on the green roof training course we run with Brighton Permaculture Trust.

We had talks, project consultancy, green roofed bird house building, and tours of Madeira Drive historic green wall, Crew Club wildflower green roof and Level Cafe green roof in the centre of town.

Here are some pictures – they speak for themselves!

We are planning something even bigger and better next time, so watch this space.