– The major transit and metro hub of Leeds City Centre, Headrow Gateway, has been renovated and rejuvenated with green infrastructure and sustainable transportation.
– Over 120 trees now line the Headrow thoroughfare and its surrounding roads, necessary steps toward the city’s 2030 carbon-zero targets.
– Leeds is becoming a city of trees with Silva Cells. The Headrow Gateway joins Dortmund Square, Sovereign Square, and several other green infrastructure projects.
The Headrow is one of the major crossroads in the West Yorkshire, England, area. There are reportedly more than 100 buses that pass through the area every hour. The 2018 Gateway project was big; a £20 million budget, and a two-year timeline from start to finish. The Leeds City Council, which has put forth several other projects that prioritize green infrastructure (Sovereign Square, Dortmund Square, and Leeds Arena ) wanted to create Green Corridors at the Headrow. The concept is to install tree-lined streets that will grow to a large tree canopy. Completed in May 2021, the project appeals to those who have an interest in greening the environment and favor car alternatives such as buses, biking, and walking. Over 120 new trees are part of this renovation—all of which are planted in Silva Cells
Bus riders, cyclists, and those on foot are all reaping the benefits of this redesign. Safety at the heart of the project meant upgrading pedestrian environments and bus stop areas. There are nearly 16,000 m2 of new, widened pavements that have been laid. In addition, there are new bike lanes. The encouragement to walk, bike, or bus as well as the addition of hundreds of trees means a transportation and civic transformation. The Leads City Council announced in a press release, “Easier connections between bus and rail services and safer, greener and less vehicle dominated areas … will work towards achieving Leeds City Council’s Climate Emergency 2030 net zero carbon target.”
They will also add property value to the area. The trees will act as additional barriers for people among cyclists and buses. Fewer vehicles and more trees mean a safer environment oriented around pedestrians.
Following completion of the renovation in May 2021, businesses in Leeds have reopened. Restaurants now have the ability to host more patrons out front, benefiting from the resource of thriving trees that will be supported by Silva Cells for years to come.
For the first few years, the businesses might not see the direct impacts of Silva Cells aiding the tree roots and managing rainwater events. However, in four, six, and 10 years the 120 trees will have large canopies bringing shade during hot summer months, creating a more inviting environment, reducing noise pollution, and cleaning the air.
“The design, quality and functionality of materials is in keeping with the enhanced city center palette and will be maintained for many years.”
– Leeds City Centre Transport
In total there are 1,728 Silva Cells belowground in the Leeds City Centre. See Figure 1 for specific streets and locations within the Headrow throughfare. Silva Cells entered the project as a solution to sustain tree health while also being able to work around the centuries-old utilities belowground. The flexibility and modular nature of Silva Cells was a great choice for the installation team led by John Sisk and Son.
This project is young, and the trees have many years of sustainable and healthy growth ahead of them.
Number of Silva Cells: 246 1X 378 2X
Amount of soil volume total: 354 m3 (12,527 ft3)
Number of trees and type: 120
Type of project: Integrated trees; stormwater maintenance
Project designer: Leeds City Council
Project contractor: John Sisk and Son
Installation date of Silva Cells: January 2020
Project timeline: 2018–2021