Construction will start shortly on a rain garden in front of the John Lewis headquarters building on Victoria Street, central London.

Visualisation of the proposed rain garden. Image: Nigel Dunnett with the Landscape Agency
Visualisation of the proposed rain garden. Image: Nigel Dunnett with the Landscape Agency

Designed by Professor Nigel Dunnett of Sheffield University with the Landscape Agency, the 75m2 rain garden will be built by Landform Consultants.

Situated within the Victoria Business Improvement District, the project has received support from Natural England as well as the Mayor of London’s Greening the BIDs project, via the regeneration agency Cross River Partnership. It includes sedum roof trays on the portico of the building in addition to the rain garden.

Rain gardens are an attractive way of absorbing rainwater run-off, helping to reduce the amount of water going into the sewers, cutting the impact of heavy rainfall and potential flooding. They form part of a strategy of water sensitive urban design.

The John Lewis rain garden is relatively small but, said David Beamont, environmental and sustainability manager of Victoria BID, ‘The greater impact comes from a number of small schemes coming together. It forms a valuable part of the All London Green Grid.’

The garden replaces an area of impermeable cobbled paving, identified during Victoria BID’s green infrastructure audit that mapped existing green and grey spaces in Victoria and identified sites that could potentially be converted to green space for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Gary Merrick, head of facilities at the John Lewis Partnership said, ‘We have been working closely with Victoria BID as this exciting project has progressed. The rain garden will not only have a positive visual impact, but a positive environmental impact too. It is a privilege to be involved in the planning and implementation of this pioneering approach to conserving water.’

Stephen Russell, policy and public affairs officer at the Landscape Institute, said, ‘It’s fantastic to see green infrastructure interventions being delivered on the ground following the GI audit undertaken for the Victoria BID back in October 2010. This audit highlighted a wealth of opportunities to introduce various GI assets in the Victoria area and it’s really very encouraging to see this coming to life’.

The rain garden will include evergreens, perennials and sarcococca hedges and will include plants that are good for bees and other pollinators. John Lewis hosts two beehives as does it neighbour, Westminster Cathedral. Both were installed as part of Victoria BID’s beekeeping programme.

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