POND AND BEYOND: FORGOTTEN CORNER OF HOSPITAL GROUNDS TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO ENVIRONMENTAL TREASURE

Gardeners’ World at the rear of the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

By Lucy Ashton

AN untidy and largely forgotten area in the grounds of the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley is about to be transformed into an environmental gem.
Over the next few months, an overgrown pond, hidden out of sight at the back of the hospital, which has little to no access for patients, staff and visitors, will be completely revamped, creating an important resource for everyone at the RAH, as well as the local community.
Led by the NHS Greater Glasgow Sustainability Team, and using the expertise of award-winning landscape architects Erz, the £245,000 ‘Pond and Beyond’ project – funded by the NHSGGC Endowment Fund and the Green Exercise Partnership – will see a huge range of improvements:

  • Landscaping of the whole site, to make it an attractive, accessible area for all.
  • Maintenance and improvements of the pond and its existing wetland and aquatic habitats.
  • Assembly of a jetty on to the pond to act as a viewing area, with appropriate safeguarding/railing.
  • Creation of a boardwalk and wayfinding over the wetland area to allow for walking and wheelchair access around the pond.
  • Creation of an outdoor teaching area on the south bank of the pond.
  • Creation of new pedestrian and wheelchair access to the hospital site/pond area from nearby Victoria Road.
  • Biodiversity enhancement to help a range of flora, and fauna including bats, nesting birds such as swans, aquatic species and a variety of insects and pollinators.

The work, which gets under way later this month and is hoped to be complete by the beginning of next year, will also see the creation of new habitats such as wildflower areas and the construction of an outdoor eating area. Food growing beds outside the hospital’s dining room, and an outdoor gym area are also planned.
In addition, it is hoped the pond area will eventually be part of a campus-wide network of walking routes, linking indoor walkways and outdoor spaces, so patients, visitors and staff, and the wider community, can all benefit from a stroll in the fresh air.
The project is part of a range of environmental and sustainability projects across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in response to the climate emergency, and allowing the board to meet or potentially exceed, and provide best practice examples for, statutory biodiversity and sustainability requirements.
Gemma Kitson, Greenspace and Urban Realm Officer for NHSGGC – a role part-funded by the Green Exercise Partnership – said: “It has been well known for many years that time spent in the outdoors has huge benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing, so I’m delighted that this work is getting under way.”
::* The Green Exercise Partnership (GEP) is supported by the Scottish Government and is a collaboration between NHS boards, Public Health Scotland, NatureScot and Scottish Forestry. Its aim is to improve the quality and accessibility of greenspace in and around NHS sites – and working alongside experts such as the GEP and Scottish Forestry, NHSGGC can reap benefits both now and in the future.

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