In December 2021, Chorlton Community Land Trust submitted a successful bid to Manchester School of Architecture’s MSA Live project to look at ways to improve air quality in Chorlton by using plants.
The project agenda
To create a vision for Green Corridors in Chorlton to reduce the effect of air pollution from vehicles. The key issues are the impact on health and wellbeing, increasing carbon emissions, the visual appeal of the area, the attractiveness for walking and sitting /connecting with others. The envisaged solution will help address these, and enhance the area’s attractiveness as a destination for shopping, eating out, and play, and contributing to the sustainability of the local environment/economy.
The project idea is to devise a green infrastructure vision and plan for the two main roads that run through the commercial centre of Chorlton. The areas where people walk, shop and sit have high levels of air pollution. There are some existing trees and planted areas, but also other areas of unused space and an absence of vegetation and infrastructure designed for planting. The extent and diversity of the area gives scope for considerable creativity by students. We would like to see a focus on areas alongside the main roads, at kerbside, but also on adjacent unused pieces of land and unused walls that students would identify. There should be considerations of easy maintenance systems (e.g watering), pollution absorbing properties of vegetation, safety and accessibility, as well as visual appeal. Attention should be given the coherence of overall concept but also template advice for individual business owners who may wish to green their own frontages.
The idea of a green corridors is to improve air quality where levels are currently above safe levels for people’s health; for example, air pollution causes asthma, chronic coughs and even cancer. They will contribute to improved mental health by reducing noise and creating a more visually appealing and calm environment. Having pleasant green areas where people can meet up and chat will reduce loneliness, known to be a contributory factor towards poor health. Creating an attractive green environment will encourage more people to walk and cycle thus reducing the temptation to drive for short journeys and increase level of physical health through exercise. It will contribute to learning about the benefits of increased biodiversity by having more diverse green urban spaces accessible to all. Interacting in a greener more attractive environment in the public areas of Chorlton will encourage greater social cohesion across Chorlton’s diverse community. It will also contribute to the cooling of this urban area – mitigating the impact of heat waves being experienced: which can have serious consequences for people’ heath, particularly older people and those with respiratory issues. The planting will retain significant amounts of CO2 thus contribution to combating climate change. There will be a positive impact on the local economy as Chorlton will be seen as an attractive place to spend time in and spend money in the local shops, thus helping to provide and retain employment locally.