Around 200 children from local primary schools in Southall visited The Green Quarter on Friday 9 July to learn about the new plants, animal habitats and landscaping in its new park, Central Gardens, ahead of its full opening next month.
The nature and development workshops at Berkeley's exciting new development gave pupils from year 3 to year 6 the opportunity to explore the new park, while learning about the site's history and initiatives to encourage wildlife, plants and wildflowers to flourish, increasing biodiversity at the former industrial site.
The children discovered how to grow their own food, learning what plants need to thrive and how to care for them. Equipped with take-home pots and seeds from the workshop, as well as their green fingers, the schoolchildren will experiment with growing their own plants during the summer holidays.
Eager to demonstrate their new skills, one child confidently said she would grow the biggest plant over the summer that would be "taller than the trees", while another child said, "I can't wait to come back to the park with my little brother, there's so much to see."
The highlight of the day came with the arrival of Elvis the Harris hawk, with pupils very excited to meet the bird of prey. One commented "I've never been that close to a hawk, and I thought I'd be scared, but he was actually really gentle."
Ashley Kensington, Managing Director at Berkeley West Thames, comments: "It was fantastic to see local primary school children interacting with the new park, learning more about the nature recovery of the site and how we're creating new habitats for plants and wildlife. Like all the green spaces we are creating at The Green Quarter, Central Gardens will be for everyone in the local community to enjoy when we officially open the park in August 2021."
Graham Cooksey, Deputy Headteacher at Featherstone Primary and Nursery School, says: "Year 6 had a terrific afternoon at The Green Quarter - an inspiring development, showing how sustainability can be put at the heart of improving their area. Many children could not believe they were still in Southall. The Berkeley team were magnificent - engaging the children with their local history, sharing the variety of ways a site can be enhanced and improved and helping nature to flourish."
Kym Jones, Landscape Architect at Applied Landscape Design, comments: "The park was specifically designed with the community in mind, so to see the children enjoying the space and learning about the work that goes into planting and caring for the gardens has been really rewarding. The first phase of the park is opening shortly, and I'm looking forward to seeing more new green space provided at The Green Quarter for everyone in the local community to enjoy."
Delivered by Berkeley's sustainability team and landscape architect Applied Landscape Design, the nature workshops mark the completion of the first phase of Central Gardens. The new park, which includes an amphitheatre, a play area inspired by the site's industrial past and an impressive water feature, will open to the public in August 2021, providing a new community space for everyone to enjoy.
Future phases of the park will be designed in partnership with London Wildlife Trust and provide a variety of habitats in which wildlife and plants can thrive. When finished, Central Gardens will stretch 500m in length, with over 250 new trees and 1.8 hectares of newly-accessible open space for the local area - the equivalent size to four football pitches.
Central Gardens is one of two new parks planned at The Green Quarter, which will provide over 2,500 trees, 25,000 plants and irrigation systems to support them grow, wetlands, and 13 acres of parkland - fully accessible to the local community.
Plans for the site also include two new footbridges that will allow easy access the adjacent 90-acre Minet Country Park. Once complete, The Green Quarter will deliver, or open up access to, more green space than St James's Park and Green Park combined.
The Green Quarter is one of 42 Berkeley Group sites which are on course to deliver a net biodiversity gain, which means the landscape has been carefully designed to measurably enhance the natural environment, instead of taking away valuable habitats.