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Why Depot Mayfield is the right venue for the first RHS Urban Show

by | 17 Apr 24 | Long Reads, Nature & Biodiversity | 1 comment

Depot Mayfield

Nearly two years ago, Manchester opened its first park in the city in more than 100 years. A 6.5-acre derelict brownfield site was transformed into a biodiverse haven as part of a 24-acre multi-use development – and instead of being an afterthought, Mayfield Park was the centrepiece, marking the start of what could become a series of green corridors across Greater Manchester. 

“We put nature, and bringing back the River Medlock, at the heart of everything we did, so we built the park first,” says Laura Percy, development director at Landsec U+I for Mayfield and Mayfield Park.  

Mayfield Park

Mayfield Park. Credit: Richard Bloom

Together with the other members of the Mayfield Partnership – and with the help of the Get Britain Back Building grant – Landsec U+I pushed for a new model of development, where it saw the value in “bringing forward significant investment into green spaces, right in the heart of a very dense and forgotten part of the city.” 

It’s easy to see why The Depot – a 10,000 capacity in an iconic former railway station alongside Mayfield Park – is the ideal venue for the Royal Horticultural Society’s new Urban Show this week. Taking place from 18-21 April, the event will be celebrating and encouraging urban gardening. 

“The Depot is inherently Mancunian; it’s got such great character and is a great example of the industrious and interesting history of Manchester, so it’s wonderful that the RHS is coming here, to the north, to Manchester.” 

The site’s close proximity to Mayfield Park will give visitors the opportunity to explore the expansive new green space and the approach that has been taken at Mayfield. “There is some great learning that can be shared beyond Manchester to other cities such as London,” says Percy.  

Rather than an “isolated park”, Percy says the Mayfield Partnership – which includes Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester, LCR and U+I – is looking to create “natural highways” which connect into the wider green infrastructure of the surrounding cities, encouraging biodiversity but also benefitting those outside of Mayfield. 

Mayfield Park

Mayfield Park. Credit: Richard Bloom

“One of the approaches that we’re taking here that’s quite exemplary is that we’re not just thinking within our own red line boundary; we’re thinking about how we can engage as a wider city, with other developers and land holders and local authorities. It’s been quite a tremendous piece of joint work. We’re looking at who is upstream on the River Medlock from us, for instance. How can we work with East Manchester which is developing Holt Town and the Manchester City FC stadium campus? 

“A brilliant outcome from the work that we’ve done with the park and the river is that it has actually helped deal with the flood threshold levels much further outside our own development boundary. So, it doesn’t just help our one-in-100-year flood risk, but it helps our neighbouring developers. So, there are a lot of benefits that go beyond just social and wellbeing and access to nature; it can deal with a city-wide problem. If we join up and think outside our own land holdings, it’s a lot more powerful.” 

Everything within the Mayfield development itself is built around the park, says Percy. “We’ll have a number of commercial buildings that will be starting on site soon, and because the park was designed first, it has influenced the design of the buildings. We want to continue that journey. There’s going to be a significant increase in the size of the park itself and we’re very much keen to see nature extend through everything that we do on site.” 

Underpinning the regeneration of the site is the assessment of the natural capital benefit. “We think people want to live, work and be close to a piece of nature that is significant, and that has benefits beyond being able to justify certain rental levels; it’s more than that. It’s a new tool to showcase how important this can be and how much value it intrinsically adds as well.” 

On top of seeing what the RHS Urban Show has to offer, visiting the adjacent Mayfield Park should cement the need for greening our cities, be it a large new area for the local community to enjoy or a small back garden or balcony. 

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1 Comment

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