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Green Up Campaign: Interview with Hillier

Adam Dunnett from Hillier speaks to us about why the Green Up Campaign is a no brainer, and why we should be looking towards supermarket car parks outside of the UK for inspiration.

Why do you feel the Green Up Campaign is needed? 

If you ask the man/woman on the street ‘what should we be doing to help mitigate global warming?’, there is a good chance they would answer ‘plant more trees’. There is real awareness amongst the public, politicians, planners and business of just how important it is to green up Britain, so who would argue that trying to turn grey carparks green is anything but a good idea?

For supermarkets to take the lead in this respect is surely equally a no-brainer; I am only surprised that none of the key players in the supermarket sector have really grabbed hold of this. It is surely a way for them to gain a point of difference over their competitors.

Supermarkets are doing some brilliant things to help improve our environment, many encouraging their food supply chain to implement good environmental practices. Why, then, aren’t our supermarkets doing more about the thing which is literally on their doorstep?

The Green Up Campaign is aiming to highlight the need to change how businesses view their carparks – and it’s not just supermarkets. There are thousands of businesses around the UK with carparks small and large – the majority are sadly lacking in good planting. They have very low canopy cover and are giant slabs of tarmac that are hard, unwelcoming, and frankly, depressing places. However, they are a canvas on which so much beauty could be painted, becoming wildlife havens and places in which we can drive and admire the landscape which has been created.

Supermarkets are doing some brilliant things to help improve our environment, many encouraging their food supply chain to implement good environmental practices. Why, then, aren’t our supermarkets doing more about the thing which is literally on their doorstep?

What good and bad experiences have you had with landscaping in supermarket car parks? 

Unfortunately, good experiences are very thin on the ground. I asked my team for examples of good case studies… the room went very quiet.

There are plenty of examples of really well landscaped carparks; they are just not in the UK. France, Italy, Belgium and Holland seem to have a different landscape ethos when it comes to their carparks, and what a difference it makes to the customer experience. First impressions count – supermarkets are clearly very aware of this when you walk into their stores, but the first impression has already been made – it’s rarely a good one.

What would you like to see change? 

A culture change where the landscaping of car parks is not at the bottom of the budget sheet with one of the smaller figures attached to it.

A change of mindset where the landscape design isn’t just about getting the project through planning and then value engineered to hit an unrealistically small budget.

A change of practice – not planting the smallest tree ‘which will hopefully survive vandalism’, and a very boring plant pallet which should have been left in the 80s.

We need to get to a place where the supermarket managers, staff and hierarchy are proud of their carparks; where they add to the environment and to the fight against global warming. Areas on which their customers comment about positively, maybe even proactively choose one supermarket over another because that supermarket is such a wonderful shop to drive in to. We’ve got Britain In Bloom, what about ‘Carpark Of The Year 2025’?

France, Italy, Belgium and Holland seem to have a different landscape ethos when it comes to their carparks, and what a difference it makes to the customer experience.

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