Location: Jubilee Square, Leicester City Centre
The Jubilee Square project was commissioned by Leicester City Council as part of “Connecting Leicester” a major programme of work launched by the City’s Mayor with the aim of establishing new green corridors to link Leicester’s historic buildings and heritage sites with the modern heart of the city. The £4m scheme (part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 – 2013), provides an attractive new gateway to the city’s Cathedral Quarter and the site of the discovered remains of Richard III.
Jubilee Square has transformed an area of the city that was dominated by a surface level car park. Now a central green hub for Leicester’s citizens, it is used as a feature landscape space for the public to access as well as an area for organised events all year around, including the hugely popular winter ice rink. It is a major central selling point for the Visit Leicester team and provides an extra incentive for tourists to this thriving Midlands metropolis. The creative design work has enabled the council to enhance the thoroughfare which daily users traverse to get to work and has also provided a more attractive showcase for the heritage aspects of the scheme, notably Wygston’s garden.
When speaking to Landscape Architects and Planners at the city council, they highlighted the creativity of integrating green infrastructure with a SUDs (sustainable urban drainage) approach. The invisible co benefits of installing mature urban trees in bespoke pits has enabled the council to make this previously impermeable area more resilient to surface water flooding.
LDA Design worked with Leicester City Council to develop plans from concept stages through to completion. In partnership, LDA Design and the council have liaised with local people throughout the process, ensuring that the public realm meets the needs of the community both now and in the future. This is a vital part of the design process, and it was clear, speaking with local business owners such as the hotel and café on the square, that this investment has provided them with an extra asset upon which to build future business.
“We are thrilled to have delivered such a transformation and a new type of space to the city centre. The design allows for a year round programme of events, as well as providing a beautiful space for people to enjoy on a day to day basis. The layout also unlocks key connections from the city centre”
The final stages of work to create Leicester’s new Jubilee Square has been marked by the planting of ten large trees, including five Freeman maples (Acer x freemanii) each standing around 7m high and weighing about four tonnes, three Indian bean trees (Catalpa bignonioides), each around 6m high, and two snowy Mespilus (Amelanchier lamarckii).
Chryse Tinsley of Leicester City Council states “Everyone admires the trees; very few people understand that they are part of the sustainable drainage solution for this new public space. In addition using the proprietary system has limits risks to the archaeology here.”
Key to the successful long-term establishment of the trees was the provision of adequate soil volume. It was also necessary to use products capable of supporting the adjacent hard paving.
StrataCells from GreenBlue Urban were specified and installed providing 3 cubic meters of uncompacted soil for each tree. The StrataCells also exceeded the engineering demands of the hard surface above.