Work started in February to transform the Hoole Way Sunken Garden. The garden is a main entrance into Chester city centre from Newtown, Brook Street, Chester Train Station and Chester Bus Interchange. This unique public open space sits below ground level in the middle of a busy roundabout.
The garden transformation includes three, 7.5m high Supertree urban sculptures. The Supertrees will introduce a new locally distinctive and visually stimulating focal point. The sculptures will create an environment for biodiversity that would not normally exist within the city.
The steel structures, in the shape of trees will allow various climbing plants to thrive within the city, increasing the plant diversity, which in turn will increase the animal and insect diversity. The structures will in many ways resemble a tree, constructed from a lattice work of steel that branches out at the top.
The project has been conceived by the ForEST (For Eco Supertrees) community group and has been designed and delivered in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council and ForEST.
Councillor Samantha Dixon, Leader Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “The vision is for a community oasis for residents, commuters and shoppers. The works are improving the quality of the public open space and accessibility. In recent years the site has suffered from anti-social behaviour and restricted accessibility. The improvements include the removal of overgrown vegetation and adding new low maintenance planting which will retain clear sight lines and new ramped access.
“We are also working with Chester Zoo who will use the garden as an education space to connect the natural world with the city.”
The trees are being installed early April that will require a lane closure on the roundabout for approximately two weeks.
Like any garden, the ForEST community group plan to add to and develop the garden as time goes by using volunteers from the local community.
The ForEST group secured £25,000 towards the project from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Pocket Parks Plus grant. A grant of £48,000 has been provided through WREN’s FCC Communities Action Fund. Section 106 funding of £48,000 and New Homes Bonus funding of £51,442 has also been used for this project.
The inspiration for the Chester Supertrees project came from Sir David Attenborough, the final episode of his Planet Earth II documentary, showed the success of Supertree Grove in Singapore’s nature park and botanical garden. He talked about the ecosystems that exist within cities, in particular the Gardens by the Bay project, where the Supertrees are located. An environment was created through metal structures supporting a variety of plant life that would not usually grow in a City.
Chester’s Supertrees are on a much smaller scale but still aims to achieve some of the same environmental and social goals as Singapore.
WREN is a not-for-profit business that awards grants for community, biodiversity and heritage projects from funds donated by FCC Environment through the Landfill Communities Fund.