Living wall gets go-ahead in Leeds

The 1,800m2 3D-effect wall will have evergreen and deciduous shrubs planted in bespoke planters.

Approval granted: Leeds recycling plant to be transformed - image: Veolia
Approval granted: Leeds recycling plant to be transformed - image: Veolia

A deciduous shrub-based "vertical woodland" living wall that reaches 30m has been given planning approval at a recycling plant in Leeds.

The 1,800m2 wall has been designed by green wall supplier Biotecture and Shelley Mosco, landscape architect and director of Green Graphite at the Veolia Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility, currently under construction.

Mosco, who is also a senior lecturer at the University of Greenwich, said the wall was unusual because it is both evergreen and deciduous; the shrubs will be planted in bespoke planters which will give a 3D effect.

Mosco said the 125m-wide wall "will have bespoke planters that have woody shrubs which all relate to the surrounding area and its Biodiversity Action Plan. We're looking at vertical woodland of deciduous shrubs, I'm excited about it."

Planning documents reveal a planting list which includes evergreen perennials such as Marsh Daisy (Armeria maritima) and Wall Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana), evergreen grasses and ferns including Hart's Tongue Fern (Aasplenium scolopendrium), deciduous shrubs including Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii) and Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergli) Common hazel (Corylus avellana).

Mosco added: "Most living walls are evergreen because people don't like to see bare patches at some times of the year but some of the deciduous species have a greater range of biodiversity."

Veolia believes the wall could be the biggest in the world and has contacted Guinness World Records on the issue.

West Sussex-based Biotecture, which provided the living wall for Patrick Collins' First Touch show garden at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is now negotiating to complete the project, which would first involve conducting plant trials. Installation is due to take place in 2016.

Director Richard Sabin said he was unable to comment on the project at this stage. Veolia Environmental Services signed a 25-year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract with Leeds City Council for residual municipal waste treatment and energy recovery in November 2012.

New wall system The recyclable method

A new vegetated wall system has been launched in the UK and uses the principals of mechanically stabilised earth that builders rely on for large retaining walls. Flex MSE comprises two engineered components, soil and sand-filled geotextile bags and spiked interlocking plates, which are 100 per cent recycled. Manufacturers claim Flex MSE can be installed in two thirds of the time of concrete block and other conventional retained wall structures. It can also be used to create naturalised landscapes or flow over existing formations or large rocks or trees.

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