At Roaring Meg Shopping Park in Stevenage, Aberdeen Standard Investments and Workman are working together on a series of biodiversity initiatives, which are opening up exciting opportunities to engage with the local community and occupiers. These include introducing beehives, enhancing biodiversity in a small stretch of woodland and running a creative writing competition for local schoolchildren.
MAKING ROARING MEG AN EVEN BETTER PLACE TO VISIT
CONTRIBUTING TO STEVENAGE’S BIODIVERSITY ACTION PLAN AIMS
ENGAGING WITH LOCAL SCHOOLS AND RAISING LOCAL AWARENESS OF THE PARK
Roaring Meg is a 33,000m2 shopping park in Stevenage, owned by Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) and managed by Workman. The Park is home not only to 25 retail and leisure units, but also to 1.5 acres of woodland, part of a much larger ancient woodland, known as Monk’s Wood.
As part of its integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors across all asset classes, ASI approached Workman to explore biodiversity and community opportunities linked to Roaring Meg’s woodland and unique name, which lends itself to imaginative themes.
Short-term aims agreed between ASI and Workman included:
Over time, they aim to bring these biodiversity and community initiatives together to further raise local awareness and attract visitors.
Biodiversity improvements included:
Workman also launched a creative writing competition, working with marketing partner BeWonder. Children at over 20 local primary schools were invited to submit entries inspired by the Park’s unusual name, Roaring Meg, which lends itself to imaginative themes. Occupiers Partyman and Hobbycraft donated prizes, including vouchers. Nick Hobbs, Sustainability & Wellbeing Manager at Workman, presented the winners with their awards.
Building on the success of the initial biodiversity and community projects, the team is exploring opportunities to:
Contributing to Stevenage’s Biodiversity Action Plan aims:
HEALTH AND SAFETY
How to safely introduce an apiary in a busy shopping environment?
Due diligence before introducing the apiary included:
How to engage with occupiers and customers?
Workman prepared letters for occupiers explaining the plans and works. The Park Manager hand delivered these to each occupier, opening up dialogue and discussing any questions or concerns. Once due diligence was covered, the response was generally very positive, with occupiers welcoming the biodiversity and community projects. Information boards were also created and positioned around Roaring Meg to raise customer awareness of the biodiversity improvements. Put together by a local designer, these provide a summary of the key improvements and explain the benefits. Signage on the outside of the bee enclosure warns people of the presence of bees in the vicinity. Download visitor information on biodiversity
How to manage beehives in a retail environment?
Choosing the right local partner to care for the bee population is key. Workman arranged a site visit by a local business that offers beekeeping services, Cardona and Son. They confirmed that the woodland would be an appropriate space for two beehives and identified a suitable location, an area raised up on a ridge in the woodland. Their proposal covers weekly visits during high season, up to eight call outs and winter shut down of the hives. They also provided guidance on improvements to make the area better for the bees, including trimming back vegetation to let in more light through the woodland canopy. The Park’s landscaping partners designed and constructed the enclosure for the hives. The bees were introduced to their new home in October 2017 and left to settle in for the winter before producing Roaring Meg’s first harvest of honey in August 2018. Workman and ASI now plan to partner up with Roaring Meg’s occupants to sell the honey and raise money for local wildlife and biodiversity charities.
Head of ESG, Real Estate
Aberdeen Standard Investments
T: 020 3680 0265
Sustainability and Wellbeing Manager
T: 020 7227 6303
Dan Grandage, Head of ESG, Real Estate at Aberdeen Standard Investments
“We believe that, with the various challenges facing the retail sector, successful parks such as Roaring Meg need to go beyond providing a great shopping experience. As well as adding environmental and social value, biodiversity and community initiatives can also contribute to commercial performance, raising local awareness, attracting visitors and encouraging people to spend more time on site.”