Recycled pocket park opens to the public

4th August 2023

A new pocket park built from recycled and leftover materials by the University of Sheffield has officially opened to the public today (3 August 2023).

  • The park is built from recycled and leftover materials, with around 35 per cent of the plants grown in the University’s greenhouses
  • The park features 22 new semi-mature trees, selected to ensure an immediate positive environmental impact
  • Gell Street Park, as the area will be known, is the third pocket park opened by the University this year

A new pocket park built from recycled and leftover materials by the University of Sheffield has officially opened to the public today (3 August 2023).

The park, located on the corner of Gell Street and Leavygreave Road, which is designed to bring nature to the doorstep of campus, has been wholly designed by the University’s in-house landscape team. It uses recycled and leftover materials, and around 35 per cent of the plants were grown in the University’s own greenhouses.

With research from the University of Sheffield showing the close relationship between access to urban nature and health and wellbeing, the park has been designed to provide a space for staff, students and the local community to relax and enjoy nature on the doorstep of a number of major campus buildings.

Adding to the 10,400 trees already on University campus, the park features 22 new semi-mature trees which have been selected to ensure an immediate positive environmental impact and provide shade in hot weather. Planting has been chosen to improve the biodiversity of the area and be drought tolerant, reducing the need for watering in summer.

Two grape vine cuttings, taken from the yard of the neighbouring Henderson’s Relish building, have also been carefully nurtured by the University’s landscape team and successfully transferred to the park. The cuttings were taken at the start of the University’s ongoing project to restore and bring back into use the Henderson’s building. The vines will be carefully pruned and trained to provide a green backdrop to one side of the park.

The park sits on a site opposite the Department of Music building that had previously been used as a compound for storing building materials for nearby construction projects. In-keeping with the sustainable aims of the project, 100 per cent of the concrete removed from the old compound was recycled.

The University has recently published its latest Biodiversity Action Plan for campus, which will see further improvements and investments in its green spaces in the coming years to benefit wildlife, people and improve resilience to climate change. It has also recently signed the Nature Positive Universities pledge to promote and protect nature, both on campus and through its wider activities.

Keith Lilley, Director of Estates and Facilities Management at the University of Sheffield, said: 

“We’re delighted to bring this under-utilised space on campus back into use for our University community and the wider Sheffield public. We know how important tree coverage, biodiversity and green spaces are both to the environment and wellbeing, and we are committed to improving the quality and quantity of our green spaces in and around campus for everyone to enjoy. 

“Pocket parks are a fantastic way for us to do this, providing small spaces at the heart of campus for people to enjoy, and using the skills and experience of our landscape team to design and implement.”

Gell Street Park, as the area will be known, is the third new pocket park opened by the University this year. New urban nature spaces have also been created in the centre of campus on Leavygreave Road, following the demolition of an old wooden structure, and on Hounsfield Road behind the Harley bar. The park forms part of the green corridor being created through the University’s campus, linking St George’s church yard along Leavygreave Road to the Concourse, which was redeveloped in 2019 to similar sustainable principles, and Weston Park. 

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