Cool streets and greening in the Square Mile
We must adapt our environment to the changes in climate that are already locked in. Recent hot weather in the UK have reinforced the importance of shade and cool spaces in the City and flooding events have highlighted the need to manage surface water more effectively. Climate projections predict that the City will experience higher temperatures and longer periods of heatwaves and drought. More frequent extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall highlight the need to manage surface water more effectively.
Through its Cool Streets and Greening Programme, the City of London Corporation is investing £6.8M to improve the resilience of its streets, parks and open spaces to the impacts of climate change. A range of urban greening, climate-resilient planting and sustainable drainage projects are being trialled, alongside sensor-based environmental monitoring, to evaluate the effectiveness of the schemes. These projects aim to tackle a number of risks from climate change, such as overheating, water stress, flooding and new pests and diseases while providing valuable data to inform future projects.
This programme is being delivered in four phases up to 2025.
Phase 1 of the programme identified existing projects where additional funding could improve the climate resilience of their schemes. These include:
- Avenue of street trees on Vine Street to provide a shaded route to eliminate street-level overheating. Vine trees were select for their resistance to pests and diseases. Completed March 2022.
- Drought tolerant planting at the riverside planters outside the City of London School. Completed May 2022.
- Permeable paving and climate resilient planting as part of the Greening Cheapside Sunken Garden project To be completed in late Spring 2023.
- Sustainable drainage and tree planting close to the junction of Bevis Marks, Dukes Place and Creechurch Lane, supporting the City Cluster Vision.
- In-ground, climate resilient planting, new trees and sustainable drainage as part of the City Cluster Vision Jubilee Gardens improvements.
- Trials of climate resilient planting in a number of planters and parklets.
Phase 2 followed a similar approach to Phase 1, with sites identified at a slightly earlier stage of design. The following projects were identified in this phase:
- Street trees, in-ground planters and rain gardens along Queen Victoria Street as part of the All Change at Bank project.
- Rain gardens, channels and footway reprofiling for surface water management, and new trees and hedge planting at Little Trinity Lane.
- Climate resilient, biodiverse planting, trees for shade and permeable paving as part of a new green space in the existing carriageway at Crescent/100 Minories.
- Linear rain gardens and tree planting as part of the Moor Lane Environmental Enhancement.
- Environmental monitoring of Phase 2 of the Barbican Podium Renewal.
Phase 3 of the programme identified new locations across the City to plant trees, increase the resilience of gardens and planting to climate change and promote biodiversity. Alongside an ambition to convert more grey areas to green. The aims are to improve the quality and connectivity of the City’s green spaces, and target improvements at the most important ecological sites, known as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation. To achieve this Phase 3 will:
- Undertake an ambitious programme of tree planting across the Square Mile in 2023 and 2024.
- Review planting in a number of City Gardens to improve its climate resilience and biodiversity value.
- Extend green space and soft landscaping at five priority locations.
Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) are effective for managing surface water from rainfall and help to minimise the risks of flooding from surcharged sewers. Phase 4 of the programme will work to develop designs for SuDS schemes at up to 10 locations, with delivery between 2023 and 2025.
Underground space in the City is often congested, filled with utilities, basements, tunnels, railways and archaeological remains. This means that some climate resilience projects, such as tree planting and sustainable drainage, can be more complex than anticipated.
The City Corporation, in partnership with the British Geological Survey and the UK Climate Resilience Programme, carried out a year-long research project to better understand how underground space can be used to improve resilience to climate change. Read more about the Cubic Mile project .
The project finished in November 2022 with a policy summary and recommendations for implementation published on the NERC Open Research Archive.