The Northern forest and cities with glades in the sky

The Northern Forest in cities should not just be about trees. In fact #gladesinthesky should be an important part of the urban forest concept. In other words, the urban forest needs green roofs too.

Northern Forest -green roofs for Manchester
Greening Manchester – AFL Architects – #greeningmanchester



The Northern Forest – green roofs

From Hull to Liverpool, the proposed Northern Forest has a many an urban centre. Whilst urban trees are important, roofs take up much of the space of in our urban areas. Parks and gardens are part of the green roof menu. Yet the majority of roof spaces will only be able to take extensive green roofs. Grass glade patches of forests need to be allowed to take root and help make the northern cities more climate resilient and wildlife friendly.

Although we see forests as all trees, there are areas of open habitat. Rides and glades are an important part of the forest ecosystem. Trees, of course, play an important role in cities. Yet grasslands and other open habitats are also vital to the health of a forest and a city. And they are of course visually more appealing for people look onto rather than grey or black roofs. Finally green roofs that mimic grasslands can help cities in a multitude of ways. Especially when it comes to climate resilience.

Manchester – The Green Summit

Greater Manchester is at the core of the western section of the Northern Forest concept. This week (March 19th 2018) Greater Manchester will be holding a green summit. Following his election, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, announced his ambitions for making Greater Manchester one of the leading green cities in Europe. The summit is a part of taking this vision forward.

Where will green roofs and #gladesinthesky feature in this vision? The Manchester based architects AFL have a vision for a city of biodiverse green roofs – a vision that should help the Mayor to achieve his aim of a greener Manchester.

A New “Park in the Sky” for a Greener, Greater Manchester


As Marcel Ridyard, associate at AFL says in the press release:

‘Ahead of the Manchester Green Summit, we are pioneering an initiative to encourage the implementation of biodiverse roofs on all large-scale Greater Manchester buildings.

As part of their campaign, the practice has collaborated with OPEN, with the support of the charitable organisation City of Trees, to produce a vision that demonstrates the possibilities of this new “park in the sky”. AFL’s animation directly overlays these green roofs on top of the existing skyline.

This initiative could be implemented on all new developments gaining planning permission within the city centre. Furthermore, could be systematically retrofitted onto existing buildings. The benefits for Manchester would be significant. These would be:

  • improved  urban drainage and micro-climate,
  • energy conservation and carbon reduction,
  • enhanced biodiversity, amenity and noise attenuation.

Vegetation on visible sections of roofs also improves physical and mental health, social engagement, reduced heat effects, natural control of air and water pollution, improved property values and city marketing. This green roof drive complements other urban greening initiatives like street trees, such as City of Tree’s flagship City Re-Leaf project.

“This is a huge opportunity, and one that would benefit everyone who works, lives and visits the city. A single change in planning policy, if tabled at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Green Summit on the 21st March, could see these green initiatives go hand-in-hand with the ambitious changes happening to Manchester’s skyline. Now is the time to ensure we develop sustainably for the future.”

The #gladesinthesky twitter poll – take part is supporting AFL Architects in this campaign. In fact, to do so we are running a twitter and facebook poll this week. The poll will run for 7 days from 19th March.

Greater Manchester needs  #gladesinthesky – a city of biodiverse green roofs.

Of course we agree with the statement. In fact we think there is a great opportunity for Greater Manchester to create policies that ensure it’s a city of #gladesinthesky.  Whilst only London currently has direct green roof policies, if another city, such as Manchester, takes up the baton, green roofs could take hold across the whole country. Therefore do take part in the poll on twitter and  facebook  that we are running in association with AFL architects and @SustMeme.

Vote and help make Greater Manchester a new beacon for green roofs in the UK.