Following the refurbishment of the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing’s Northern Terrace entrance area last year, a project has been underway over the last few months to develop the courtyard leading off the entrance into a calm, relaxing and safe space for our students and staff to enjoy. Having identified that there is a lack of green spaces on city campus and the corresponding correlation with mental health that they bring, it was decided to turn the underused courtyard into an Urban Wellbeing Garden. Funding for the garden was approved in Summer 2019 and the work started the following September.
The aims of the garden are to provide a comfortable outside space for group work, meditation and socialising with a special consideration for those with social anxiety, enhance psychological and emotional wellbeing for users by reconnecting with nature and to contribute to Leeds Beckett University’s programme of ecology and conservation across campus. Plants included in the garden include wildflowers, to encourage bees and other fauna, sensory plants such as lavender and jasmine and fruit, vegetables and herbs.
The first stage of the garden was completed at the end of November and the garden was officially launched on Thursday 12th December 2019 at a grand opening ceremony at Northern Terrace. Staff, Students and members of the Student Union team, Student Wellbeing team and the People team were in attendance alongside the University Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Slee. Attendees enjoyed a festive feast of pizza, mince pies and prosecco followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony with speeches from Peter and SOBEC's Dr Lindsay Smales, Senior Lecturer in Planning and overall Project Manager for the garden. Following the ribbon cutting, attendees were invited to go out into the courtyard and view the biodiversity on offer.
The first stage of the project has included cleaning and preparation of the yard, building and erecting the raised beds, assembly of garden furniture and trellis, the purchase of large pots and planting. The second phase of the development in Spring will be to plant the final raised bed with vegetables, which when fully grown, users will be able to pick and harvest for free. The garden will be open all year round and will also provide a unique space for wellbeing activity and school social events.
Thanks to all the staff who have been involved in getting the project off the ground, in particular Sana Waliyat, course administrator for Human Geography and Planning and Sam Birkby, PA to the Dean. If you would like to get involved in maintaining the garden or can offer any advice about plants and upkeep, please email S.K.Waliyat@leedsbeckett.ac.uk.