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City Hall in bloom thanks to green fingered locals

City Hall is in full bloom ahead of its opening in November thanks to a Sunderland cooperative that supports local people with learning disabilities.

Bishopwearmouth Cooperative, a not-for-profit community interest company that supports vulnerable adults with disabilities by providing paid employment, education and volunteering opportunities, started planting a range of blooms throughout City Hall at the start of the year, which have now blossomed to add focal points to the space and provide a green welcome for residents and employees using the building.

Numerous scientific studies have proven that having greenery in the workspace yields many benefits, such as reducing stress, increasing productivity and cleaning the air, which is why Sunderland City Council was keen to invest in its green credentials and to work with an initiative that supports local people with disabilities in the process.

City Hall will be the workplace of around 2,000 workers from the city council and a range of support organisations, providing a modern and central location for residents looking to access assistance from providers including Sunderland City Council, Sunderland College and the Department for Work & Pensions.  

Shaun Donnelly, managing director at Bishopwearmouth Cooperative, said: “The opportunity to design the planted interior at City Hall has given our team of adults with disabilities the chance to widen their knowledge of interior planting on a large scale.

“The indoor plants we have used are mostly tropical, from eight-foot-high Kentia palms which add structure down to flowering orchids and anthuriums. The 1,400 plants have been planted in various high footfall areas to soften the building and add focal points in addition to assisting cleaning the air and removing pollutants.” 

“The planters we have used are designed to give a natural feel rather than formal, including black metal hourglass planters designed to fit in with the modern building which reflect the shipbuilding theme in the area.”

Bishopwearmouth Cooperative operates as a garden centre, as well as delivering a range of professional horticultural and floristry services, employing local people with disabilities to promote social inclusion, equality and involvement within the local community.

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The work Bishopwearmouth Cooperative do is fantastic, and we’re thrilled to have supported their brilliant social enterprise to provide opportunities for disabled residents.

“We were keen to install live plants into City Hall as we know studies have shown they can have positive benefits for employees and organisations in terms of wellbeing, cleaning the air and overall aesthetic. The design Shaun and his team have created is stunning and really complements the modern building with its glazed panels that allow the natural light to flood through.”

Sunderland City Council will be moving into the new building at Riverside Sunderland next month, as part of a phased relocation. Staff working within City Hall will be volunteering to maintain and care for the plants, after attending a workshop held by Shaun prior to the City Hall opening.

City Hall is one of three buildings that is being funded by Legal & General, as part of its £100m commitment to Riverside Sunderland. It plays a key part in Sunderland City Council’s Riverside Sunderland Masterplan, which is set to create one million sq ft of modern offices and workspace for 8 – 10,000 new jobs, as well as 1,000 new homes for a community of 2,500 people with beautiful landscape parks and green public spaces in the heart of the city.

To find out more about City Hall and the wider Riverside Sunderland development, visit www.riversidesunderland.com or follow RiversideSund on social media.