An award-winning garden has opened just off London’s Oxford Street after being moved to the heart of the West End from RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Wild West End Garden has been developed by the area’s businesses to improve biodiversity and air quality, promoting happiness and wellbeing in the retail and leisure centre.
The Wild West End Garden, which won a gold medal in the Spaces to Grow category at RHS Chelsea Flower Show last month, has been moved to Old Quebec Street in London’s West End to provide a tranquil, green oasis for visitors to the district. It was created through a partnership between New West End Company, Europe’s largest retail-led business partnership, The Portman Estate, Baker Street Quarter Partnership, Marble Arch London BID and Wild West End – a partnership between major West End property owners which seeks to create greater connections with nature for residents, visitors and workers. The garden was designed by five times gold-winning garden designer Kate Gould.
'I feel privileged to have been asked to be a small part of the greening of London, many of the gardens I have put on the showground at Chelsea have been related to this theme as I feel it is imperative to create healthier spaces for people living in and frequenting the city. I hope the garden thrives, is well used and helps to improve the air quality for visitors and residents of the West End for the time it will be spending in this space,' says Gould.
The Wild West End Garden complements a broader programme, led by New West End Company, of projects to improve the West End’s public spaces, which has also included a £10 million overhaul of London’s premier luxury shopping destination, Bond Street. The garden will regenerate the streetscape on Old Quebec Street and improve the visitor experience for the 142 million people that visit Oxford Street’s 260 stores each year. Research by CABE shows that 85 per cent of people believe the quality of public space has a direct impact on their lives and on the way they feel, so businesses in the busy shopping district are focused on transforming the environment for its customers, workers and the local community.
'The Wild West End Garden will provide a tranquil place for people to visit, amidst the vibrancy of London’s West End. But, even more importantly, it demonstrates London’s credentials as a forward-thinking city, looking to constantly advance and improve on key issues that face major cities, like air quality and protecting and enhancing opportunities for wildlife and plants. It is projects like this garden, alongside the broad range of initiatives that the partners behind Wild West End are delivering, that will ensure London’s future as a smart, sustainable city and we’re proud to be leading that charge here in the West End,' says Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company.
'High streets across the country are changing and as councils it is our role to reshape public spaces to suit modern lifestyles. Bringing this fantastic garden to the heart of our city, The Wild West End scheme, and projects like it ensure our historic centres stay relevant, creating unique new attractions for everyone to enjoy,' adds Cllr Richard Beddoe, cabinet member for place shaping and planning, Westminster City Council.
The garden forms part of Wild West End, a project which has seen the area’s biggest property owners (The Crown Estate, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, The Portman Estate, Great Portland Estates, The Howard de Walden Estate and Shaftesbury) join forces with the Mayor of London, the London Wildlife Trust and consultancy firm Arup, to create new green corridors that link up existing green spaces (like the West End’s squares) with new pieces of green infrastructure. To date, the partners have installed more than 6,500 sq m of green space across their buildings, including nearly 50 green roofs, and carefully integrating ecology features such as beehives, bird and bat boxes to provide habitat value.
'The picturesque Georgian streets of Marylebone sit just metres from the busy shopping area of Oxford Street. We hope that the garden will provide a place for everyone to enjoy some rare greenery within the urban landscape, outside of the nearby Great Parks,' says Simon Loomes, strategic projects director at The Portman Estate. 'For us it is a first step which, if successful, will see the creation of a number of more permanent pocket parks across the district. Our Estate sits between Regent’s Park and Hyde Park and these new sites will help to create ecological corridors allowing wildlife to migrate and benefit from a wider green network. We would welcome comments and suggestions from all visitors to the garden via our website..