A transformed Birmingham street has been featured in a half hour episode of the BBC’s popular Britain in Bloom programme – thanks to a helping hand offered by Plantscape.
Soho Road Business Improvement District is one of a number of Birmingham BID groups for which Plantscape is providing summer and winter floral displays or planters.
And the transformation from concrete jungle to urban oasis was broadcast to millions of viewers recently on BBC 2.
The 600 businesses and various community groups in the mile long Handsworth street, which has suffered in the past from problems with antisocial behaviour, decided to work together to overturn its bad boy reputation.
The BID’s energetic and passionate manager Diane Mansell, who has notched up numerous Britain in Bloom successes in various towns across the UK over the past eight years, said the power of flowers would make a massive difference to the feel and prosperity of the area.
She approached Plantscape last summer asking if it could help – and the team responded by offering a number of used planters at a reduced price, with local businesses, a school, the Sikh temple and members of the public determined to help out. Diane oversaw the installation of 120 planters containing 7,000 plants along the length of the street.
Indeed, the project was so successful – not only in earning the road a silver gilt In Bloom, award, but in boosting the coffers of the local community – that Diane has asked Plantscape if it can help out again this summer.
Presenter Chris Bavin said of the road: “Its bustling, it’s vibrant it’s colourful. It’s not what you’d associate with your normal Britain in Bloom entry. It’s a diverse area, an urban melting pot of different cultures.”
Diane Mansell added: “If you think of Bloom you don’t think of the Soho Road. We have people from all over the world come here. So we need to showcase what we have in Birmingham and what we have on the Soho Road to keep these people coming here. We’re using Bloom to regenerate the area. In Bloom can help change people’s lives. And I’ve seen that in the past when I’ve used it in other areas.
“I believe in In Bloom so much that I really do believe it can work.”
Business managers interviewed on the programme were enthusiastic about the project and the impact the blooms would have on community spirit and their bottom line.
One said: “If an area looks nice people feel good and if they feel good they want to shop more.”
Soho Road is just one of the groups with which Plantscape is working in Birmingham and the Black Country. Southside BID has ordered both winter and summer planting schemes to encourage footfall and boost local trade, as have Acocks Green, Erdington and West Bromwich BIDs.
Birmingham as a whole has seen great investment and improvement over recent years, with the development of its iconic library, space age Bullring shopping centre and revitalised New Street station. It is home to theatrical venues such as the Hippodrome, O2 Academy, the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Rep.
And it will play host to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 – another tick in the ‘putting Birmingham on the map’ box.
Watch Soho Road BID’s transformation here.