Green fingered residents living in the iconic Grade II* listed Byker Wall in Newcastle upon Tyne have been celebrating the completion of a multi-million refurbishment programme by adding colourful displays to the front of their homes thanks to an initiative by their local housing association.

Residents have been planting plants, shrubs and vegetable plugs in planters outside of their south-facing flats and maisonettes to brighten up the Wall and improve their health and well-being.

BCT Byker Wall Planting Exercise pic 1 (2)The planting exercise is the finishing touches of a £9.7 million external refurbishment programme, which has been completed by the Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association who owns and manages the iconic building.

As part of the community engagement plan that was agreed at the beginning of the programme, housing and regeneration specialist Keepmoat donated over 2,000 plants, shrubs and vegetable plugs as part of their social investment commitment throughout the duration of the two-year project.

The BCT appointed Keepmoat to install new windows and doors to 400 units, the installation of a new roof, including photovoltaics, make improvements to communal stairwells, hallways and entrances and a complete repaint of the Wall in line with the original Ralph Erskine colour scheme.

BCT Byker Wall Planting Exercise pic 3 (2)As part of the full refurbishment programme, a new digital aerial system, upgraded door entry and CCTV system was also installed by security systems provider OpenView, working in partnership with Newcastle City Council, Your Homes Newcastle and Historic England.

The planters were part of the original design for the Byker Wall but were replaced during the refurbishment programme due to the removal of asbestos.  New planters have been installed outside of the flats and maisonettes and in communal areas, which has been very well received by residents.

Officers from the BCT, Keepmoat, Your Homes Newcastle, Avondale House and young volunteers from the Prince’s Trust helped residents to plant up the displays.  Byker Wall resident, Tommy Beattie of Rabygate, said:

“The plants have cheered the place up. It was great to work with my neighbours to do this which has helped to create a sense of community”

David Jones, Head of Engagement & Community Development at the BCT, said:

“This is a fantastic initiative and encourages residents to look after the appearance of their property.  A large part of the flats and maisonettes in the Byker Wall do not have gardens so the planters give residents an alternative to tend and look after.  Residents were invited to select up to five plants and shrubs per household but a lot of them chose vegetable plugs and those who have participated in the exercise have hailed it a success.  It’s just coming into the right time of year and once they start growing or flowering, it will add some colour to the walkways.”