Gayathri, Clare & Jess P. visited West Gorton’s new climate-resilient ‘sponge park’ on a blustery November day after a full night of rain. The park is split into three distinct but connected spaces including a woodland area with a wetland meadow, a picnic area and a play area as well as a place for locals to grow their own plants and flowers.
Design features such as a rain garden, swales and wide shallow trenches planted with aquatic vegetation help to capture excess water from nearby roads and slow the rate at which it flows into the existing drainage system. Tree pits also capture and store stormwater and allow it to be gradually absorbed into the root systems. Water-loving species planted in the park include Alnus glutinosa, Iris pseudacorus, Osmunda regalis and Rodgersia pinnata.
The students noted a gravel path has been eroded by rainwater below the basketball court – paving that directs runoff to the drains is not deep enough to prevent this, and the issue could be improved by extending a strip of planting around the edge to intercept this runoff.
The community park was built by BDP Ltd. landscape architects and idverde contractors in West Gorton. Residents shaped the design, which was a partnership between Manchester City Council, the Guinness Partnership Ltd, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the University of Manchester who will be carrying out key research at the facility.
West Gorton seen more than £100m investment since 2010, and the park cost £1.3m to build. It was funded by the EU through their €11m Grow Green Project which began in 2017 and is designed for projects which come up with innovative solutions for dealing with climate change.