Forest Garden Needed to Reduce Air Pollution

Geoff Jeden
Wednesday, 16th July 2014

East London Garden Society are petitioning to developers in Shoreditch, London, to make sure their needs for a forest garden with permaculture principles are reached in the proposed development of the Bishopsgate Goods Yard.

We who live in the Shoreditch area of London are to have major developments consisting of very large tower blocks - The Bishopsgate Goods Yard is just one. Within this development the developers have to create a community park atop railway arches, approximately 1/2 mile long, 200ft at its broadest, tapering to 60ft at the Brick Lane end. 

The design consortia brought in to oversee the design of the community park had a remit to consult with the community as to what park would be required. The community replied, asking for a wild area, where children could play, a growing area and an area that could self-sustain.

The park design is such that a woodland area for children's natural play, so they imagine a children's climbing structure in the woodland, a horticultural area next to the woodland concept, an exhibition space, a building in the sky imitating a signal box, a plinth with various inter-changeable sculptures, a shop and a cafe. As explained to the design consortia, Shoreditch is overburdened with air pollution, therefore a necessary park would best serve the community, by ensuring it would have a positive impact on the situation. They wish to build bug hotels, together with bird boxes.

The best solution would be a park that reduces air pollution - a forest garden based on permaculture principles.

The East London Garden Society along with others have met with the developers but gained no ground on this type of design. We further pointed out inherent flaws with the park design:

1. You will need (rule of thumb) 25% extra capacity for each of the areas for management.

2. There must be an integrated water system to attend the needs of the park.

3. As much as you will require the natural bugs and beasties in the woodland area, next door you will try to eradicate them it being an horticultural area.

4. Although the area is south facing, heat will be deflected by the tall buildings exacerbating the plant stress levels.

Plus many more flaws.

So we are petitioning to get the developers to listen to our needs, so that Shoreditch can properly benefit from these developments.

To sign the petition visit

In this article the developers of The Bishopsgate Goods Yard are Hammersons and Ballymore, two major construction companies in the United Kingdom, the design consortia are The Space Hub. 

Drawings supplied by JB Project Architects, Architects for Sustainability

Further resources

Edible Cities: Urban Permaculture for Gardens, Yards, Balconies, Rooftops and Beyond for a special price of £11.20 (also available as an eBook)

The need for sustainable building

Watch: Harvesting rainwater in the urban environment

From urban desert to oasis

Can we make our cities sustainable with permaculture?

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