Southampton Urban Green Space
Lordshill Estate, Southampton
Artecology, Arc, Sovereign Housing Association (then Spectrum), Landscape Therapy
Southampton’s Lordshill Housing Estate had become an area of special concern for social housing provider Spectrum, with conflicts often centred on the communal gardens across the estate. Artecology and Arc were commissioned by the housing association’s community investment team to improve the shared green spaces for people and for wildlife, and to create and install public art.
Dovetailing the programme of works to our calendar of community events meant that residents of all ages were able to actively participate from beginning to beyond. Housing staff and grounds maintenance contractors were brought along with us too! We worked with families on the estate over a period of two years, starting with wildlife explorer days doubling as consultations. The estate is built in and around a nearby woodland and so bringing ‘nature nearby’ into the development underpinned the project. Woodland plant species, pollen and nectar-rich and designed to attract local key species Silver-washed fritillary, themed one area of the estate while more formal gardens were adapted to deliver hotspots of edible landscaping and wildlife refuge, for invertebrates, small mammals, songbirds, reptiles and amphibians. Amenity grass areas were transformed by raised planters and native trees while defensive planting was replaced with edible and flowering species.
Artecology’s sculpted nest boxes, each different and to suit a range of species, now create both a nature and an art trail through the estate,celebrating its USP of mature trees and links to the neighbouring woodland. Beautiful and organic, they have provided habitat for wildlife (the nuthatches moved in first!) and ongoing wildlife encounter for residents way beyond the project end.
The Lordshill project and its combination of green space enhancement, Artecology bio-art and community, staff and contractor engagement became a flagship project for Spectrum Housing and other housing providers. The model was replicated under Arc and Artecology’s direction in target estates across the South Coast and in the case of Gillingham, Dorset, has influenced local authorities and national house-builders planning neighbouring large-scale developments.
Boosted tenant satisfaction ratings across the estate as a result of more opportunities to participate, and collaborate, on shared projects and visible improvements to the public spaces used by all ages in the community.
A new dialogue between the housing association and its grounds maintenance contractors, one based more on shared objectives, opportunities for local training, and small gains for wildlife accumulating over time.
Delivering simple differentiation within the local patchwork of greenspace, working with residents to pick out a different theme and objective for each and so creating a richer environment for people and for wildlife.