Paddington BID Ltd (Posted 29.12.14)

Paddington unveils 'Rain Garden' and 'Green Wall' to mitigate flood risks.

London's 'Green Takeover' Continues...

Paddington is showcasing a new 70m2 green wall and sunken rain garden designed to reduce urban flooding in the key tourist area, as part of London’s ‘green revolution’. The development comes at a time when Paddington expects to see an increase of 15% more visitors thanks to the launch of the Paddington Trail coinciding with the new film.

Just around the corner from Paddington Station, London’s historic gateway which sees 61million passengers pass through it each year, the environmental installation will look over bustling Praed Street from the side of historic St Mary’s Hospital, a prominent site in the community, which has seen the discovery of penicillin and pioneered the use of robotic surgery. Plants will climb the walls of the hospital’s Winston Churchill building with the sunken rain garden alongside.

Standing 12m tall, the wall will be packed with six different seasonal plant species from blooming Geranium Rozanne and climbing jasmine to natural ivy. The plants have been specially chosen to ensure the wall is in bloom all year round and act as a welcoming home for the birds, butterflies and bees, to create a permanent vibrant focal point for the local area. Around the corner, the 24m2 sunken rain garden will gather water which over time will grow more greenery to form a striking feature for passers by.

Mark Roth, Chairman of PaddingtonNow and General Manager at Hilton London Paddington, says; “Green infrastructure transforms the aesthetics of an area and we feel this is key to improving the Paddington welcome. We are committed to improving Paddington for visitors and have already made great headway with the restoration of Sussex Gardens and decorative greenery across the district. The new installation will be a stunning feature with the added benefit of long-term environmental sustainability for the area.”

Jill Blowers, property manager for St Mary’s Hospital, says, “This project has been a fabulous example of collaboration between various partners for the benefit of the community. I can’t help but feel excited about the benefit that our patients, staff, and visitors will feel from the livening up of our estates and I look forward to seeing it flourish.”

The transformative project came to light following completion of a Green Infrastructure Audit by PaddingtonNow, the Business Improvement District which represents over 350 businesses in the area to the East, South and West of Paddington Station. The audit identified key locations that could be sites for various greening initiatives and PaddingtonNow commissioned the installation as a preventative measure and in recognition of the environmental benefits it will have to the area as a whole.

The wall’s unique design enables it to capture rainwater in dedicated storage tanks. Water collected by the tanks is channelled slowly through the wall, nourishing plant life and helping to reduce the risk of surface water flooding in the area by storing over 120 gallons of water at any time.

Cllr Heather Acton, Westminster City Council cabinet member for sustainability, says, “Great strides have been made in recent years to make Paddington a greener place, and this new green wall is a spectacular addition to the local area.

“Westminster City Council has worked closely with PaddingtonNow to achieve public realm improvements and green infrastructure projects that not only make Paddington a more pleasant place to live, work and visit, but also a healthier one – promoting sustainability, increasing biodiversity and improving air quality. We look forward to continuing this important work together.”

According to the Environment Agency one in four properties in London are at risk of flooding, and flood risk is high in Paddington during periods of heavy rain due to the concentration of buildings and low absorbency of urban surfaces. The project has received a £9,000 grant from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, through his Drain London programme, co-ordinated by the regeneration agency Cross River Partnership.

Susannah Wilks, Director of Cross River Partnership, says: “The Mayor of London’s Greening the BIDs project provides catalytic funding to the business community to install urban greening projects that bring environmental, social and economic benefits. Cross River Partnership administers these projects on behalf of the GLA. We congratulate PaddingtonNow on delivering the rain garden at St Mary’s, which demonstrates how business working with its members, the GLA and others can make a meaningful contribution to addressing surface water management issues, whilst enhancing the sustainability and attractiveness of the urban realm.”

In addition, the wall will improve the air quality in the area as the vegetation can trap microscopic pollutants, high levels of which have been shown to cause respiratory illnesses.