In 2013, Crystal Peaks launched a five-year programme with Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Landscape Trust and other local partners to expand a nearby ancient meadow area, creating a new wildlife corridor. Unused grassland is being transformed into valuable green infrastructure for local residents, schoolchildren, shoppers and other visitors, as well as bees, birds, butterflies and other wildlife. In addition, associated community projects are promoting a sense of local stewardship for the wildlife corridor, further enhancing biodiversity and offering local engagement opportunities for the Workman team.
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CREATING VALUABLE GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
IMPROVING PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCE AT CRYSTAL PEAKS AND IN THE SURROUNDING AREA
ENHANCING LOCAL BIODIVERSITY
GENERATING £50,500 PR VALUE FOR CRYSTAL PEAKS IN TWO YEARS, POSITIVE FOR FOOTFALL
BUILDING STRONG LOCAL RELATIONSHIPS
Crystal Peaks Shopping Mall and Retail Park is an out of town district shopping centre located seven miles south east of Sheffield. Covering nearly 40 acres, it offers over 100 stores and attracts 13 million visitors a year. It is owned by Hermes Investment Management and managed on a daily basis by Workman.
In 2013, the Workman team at Crystal Peaks launched a five-year programme with Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Landscape Trust and other local partners, such as schools and environmental groups, to create a new wildlife corridor for the benefit of all, supported by Crystal Peaks’ occupiers and Hermes.
Drivers for the wildlife corridor included:
- Building on Workman’s well-established Biodiversity Strategy for Crystal Peaks, which had introduced features popular with shoppers and contributed to the Centre winning a Hermes Responsible Property Investment Award in 2013, e.g. wildflower areas, beehives, bird boxes, insect houses made by schoolchildren, hedgehog homes, a stumpery for invertebrates and events such as bee walks
- Creating additional opportunities for local engagement through community biodiversity projects. This follows the success of the Workman team volunteering on local biodiversity initiatives such as annual ‘make hay’ days with local residents and clean-up events on the Ochre Dike, which flows along Crystal Peaks’ southern boundary
- Capitalising on Crystal Peaks’ location within the South Yorkshire Forest Partnership area, where diverse organisations are working together to realise a vision for over 200 square miles of rural and urban landscapes to improve quality of life, provide an attractive backdrop for investment and enhance biodiversity. The Workman team recognised a unique opportunity to create community green space and biodiversity enhancements on Crystal Peaks’ doorstep, with a large area of unused grassland to the south of the Centre, owned by Sheffield City Council, alongside an ancient meadow and woodland.
To create the wildlife corridor, since 2013, Sheffield Landscape Trust, schoolchildren and local volunteers, including members of the Crystal Peaks team, have:
- Created 10 new meadows, clearing bramble and scrub, digging and scarifying seed beds
- Planted native bulbs and sowed wildflower seeds, provided by the Council’s Ecology Unit
- Laid new footpaths, improved existing paths and reinstated lost footbridges over the stream
- Named meadow areas, installed interpretation boards to encourage community interest and added benches at vantage points
- Replanted hedgerows, created new tree avenues and pruned overgrown vegetation
- Cleaned up the Ochre Dike and excavated wetland ponds and scrapes, through monthly volunteer days run by the Riverside Stewardship Company
- Held popular bird, bat and butterfly walks, led by experts, monitoring and recording local species
- Added bird and bat boxes and hibernacula (places of shelter)
- Implemented a grasslands management regime, including the annual ‘make hay’ day.
Additional biodiversity initiatives introduced at Crystal Peaks since 2013 include:
- Creating wildflower areas, expanding orchid areas and extending differential mowing regimes
- Planting more bee and butterfly friendly species, native pines and native bulbs in the entrance areas
- Planting climbers and scented plants in the car parks
- Expanding the stumpery, adding more bird and bat boxes and introducing more information boards.
- £50,000 investment by Crystal Peaks over five years, funded by occupiers through the service charge
- £50,500 PR value generated in the first two years
- 30 days of involvement by the Workman team and partners at Crystal Peaks each year
- £48,000 match funding secured by Sheffield City Council from Veolia, which has a recycling facility nearby and recognises that people want to buy from and work with socially responsible businesses
- £600 funding from Crystal Peaks’ facilities management partner Incentive FM.
- Supporting footfall and dwell time, by improving people’s experience of the approaches to Crystal Peaks, creating green points of interest for shoppers in and around the Centre and generating positive publicity
- Building strong relationships with the local authority and local community, including participating in volunteering activities with people from the primary catchment area
- Providing opportunities for occupier engagement, e.g. McDonald’s, M&S and Sainsbury’s team members participating in volunteering projects
- Supporting Hermes’ Responsible Property Investment strategy.
- Transforming unused grassland into valuable green infrastructure for local residents, schoolchildren, shoppers and other visitors
- Creating new local linkages, including a ‘trim trail’ to encourage active lifestyles
- Opening up views along footpaths and increasing feeling of safety by clearing vegetation
- Promoting a sense of local stewardship for the area, which can reduce anti-social behaviour
- Supporting wellbeing, with studies showing that green spaces significantly affect people’s health and happiness, and the wildlife corridor providing a large green area for local people of all ages to enjoy at no cost.
- The wildlife corridor is connecting species rich grassland areas, linking plant and animal populations that would otherwise be isolated and at greater risk of local extinction
- Sheffield City council has commissioned insect, bird and bat counts in the area over the last few years, with the impact of the wildlife corridor expected from 2016
- Additional light created by clearing vegetation on the Ochre Dike has led to Broad-leaved Helleborine orchids flourishing along the customer footpath verge, the presence of minnows was recorded in the Ochre Dike in 2014, and locally rare bee orchids are also in the Crystal Peaks stumpery
- Volunteering projects, environmental walks, school activities, interpretation boards and other communications are raising awareness of environmental issues amongst local residents and schoolchildren.
Challenges & Achievements
How to get a partnership biodiversity project off the ground?
At Crystal Peaks, there was a collective will by Workman, Hermes, Sheffield City Council and local environmental and community groups, to properly manage the ancient meadow and grassland for the future. In 2013, attention was focused on the issue due to local authority cuts, which risked affecting long-term management of this area. There was also an opportunity, as Crystal Peaks had set aside service charge funding for community initiatives as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations. The Workman team at Crystal Peaks suggested that Sheffield City Council apply for some of this funding. They also agreed to take a lead role to get the project off the ground. Once the funding was confirmed, it was down to logistical issues such as engaging all relevant stakeholders, including consulting with local schools, environmental groups, residents’ forums and other local organisations.
How to extend the wildlife corridor?
To leverage the Crystal Peaks investment, Sheffield City Council approached Veolia, which has a recycling facility nearby. They applied for £48,000 of match funding to extend the project further along the Ochre Dike to Veolia’s facility. This bid was granted in September 2014, providing the next step in an aspiration to extend the project all the way to Rother Valley Nature Reserve 1.5 miles away. This would create an environmentally significant corridor allowing wildlife to extend and thrive along its length, at the same time as offering a new walking route for local residents to enjoy.
Find out more
Crystal Peaks Shopping Mall and Retail Park
Related links and downloads
Workman and Hermes – Sustainability Partnership at Crystal Peaks - case study
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