12 June 2018

Wild West End is a natural success

Through our Wild West End partnership, we’re creating a green corridor linking Regent’s Park and St James’s Park. This is encouraging birds, bees and bats back into this iconic area of London and creating opportunities for people to experience nature during their daily lives, an important factor proven to benefit wellbeing.

Wild West End is a unique partnership between The Crown Estate, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, The Howard de Walden Estate, The Portman Estate and Shaftesbury and, more recently, Great Portland Estates. It’s endorsed by the London Wildlife Trust and Mayor of London and supported by technical partner Arup.

Growing a green corridor

Since 2013, The Crown Estate has created almost 3,000m2 of green space across central London – an area bigger than 11 tennis courts. This includes biodiverse green roofs, green walls, planters and pocket habitats on new developments and existing buildings.

All the green spaces we create as part of Wild West End are aligned to our Ecology Masterplan for central London, maximising biodiversity value. Several feature wildflowers for bees and butterflies, bird boxes for the locally rare black redstart, and log piles for spiders, solitary bees and other invertebrates.

To evaluate the success of Wild West End, Arup monitors the impacts of the green spaces every two years. This includes biodiversity contributions, such as increases in bird and bat life, as well as health and wellbeing, air quality, air cooling and water retention. The latest results will be published in autumn 2018.

Gardening in the Sky Allotments

As part of Wild West End, we’ve created a secret allotment garden high above Regent Street. Since opening in 2016, the Sky Allotments have been giving occupiers new ways to enjoy nature during their working day and attracting wildlife.

Around 45 volunteer gardeners from 12 Regent Street businesses tend the allotments and two communal herb gardens, with professional gardeners on hand for advice and help. As crops come through, the gardeners see increases in bees, butterflies and other pollinators. In turn, these encourage bumper crops of salads, vegetables, fruits and herbs.

Regent Street businesses describe the allotments as a hidden oasis. Gary Thornton of BBH London commented: “We love that the allotments encourage our team to get out the office, be active and concentrate on a calm activity. Also, what could be better for London and its air quality than more green spaces, flowers and plants?”

Regent Street restaurant Tibits now uses allotment herbs in some of its dishes. Kiehl’s on Regent Street also hosted an event for other occupiers to find out more about Wild West End. Mandana Motamedi of Kiehl's said: “We are delighted to be a part of such a great inspiring project and have reaped the rewards of what we’ve grown, including a wonderful variety of tomatoes, chillies and herbs.”

Capturing people’s imagination

Every July, Wild West End forms part of the Summer Streets festival, where Regent Street goes traffic free each Sunday. This popular event draws millions of visitors from far and wide, presenting a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of ecology and celebrate the secret gardens of Regent Street.

Visitors are given the chance to relax on pop-up lawns and take part in green activities such as making bug hotels, planting seeds and meeting the Regent Street bees.

Our rooftops have been home to honey bees since 2008, cared for by trained beekeepers. Regent Street occupiers welcome the chance to get up close and personal with the bees not only during the festival but also throughout the summer. Every Friday, small groups of occupiers don beekeeping suits and go up to the rooftops to hear about bee life from the experts. They describe the opportunity as amazing.

Julie Hogarth, Head of Sustainability at Regent Street Management Direct, said: “Many visitors don’t know about the secret gardens of Regent Street or the importance of pollinators like our honey bees, and we can change their outlook quite quickly. They then go off and talk animatedly about why bees are important and what we’re doing. It’s such a fantastic stage for us to engage with people on the green agenda and on what we’re trying to achieve as a portfolio.”

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