Press Release

Balfour Beatty Living Places set to improve air quality in Southampton as it delivers UK’s first highways living wall

6 August 2019


Balfour Beatty Living Places and green infrastructure experts, Biotecture, are set to deliver a UK first on behalf of Southampton City Council, as works to install the first hydroponic living wall on a highways scheme commenced this summer.

Hydroponic living walls are sustainable, vertical installations containing living plants and foliage which grow without the need for soil. Offering many benefits to the public and the environment, these green and living structures help to remove air pollutants through the absorption of gases such as Carbon Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide, as well as hazardous particulate matter.

Forming part of the newly reconstructed Millbrook Roundabout that Balfour Beatty Living Places successfully completed ahead of schedule earlier this year, the company will now install the foundations and six-metre-high steel frame, while Biotecture will design and position the hydroponic living wall.

Balfour Beatty Living Places Managing Director, Steve Helliwell, said: “We are incredibly proud to be working with Southampton City Council and Biotecture on this flagship project – a first in the UK. This is a project which has the potential to transform the way we sustainably deliver highways schemes across the industry.

“Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and in the solutions we provide to our customers. Through this project, we will not only improve air quality for local residents but improve the aesthetic of the roundabout for the travelling public and the wider community in Southampton.”

Richard Sabin, Managing Director of Biotecture, said: “Yet to be seen on the UK road network, the Millbrook green columns are evocative of the Via Verde highway pillars in Mexico City, and they’ll help with air pollution reduction. We are very excited to be working on this flagship scheme in Southampton.”

Cllr Jacqui Rayment, Cabinet Member for Transport & Public Realm, commented: “We have committed to making Southampton a clean, green, sustainable and successful city through our Green City Charter. The Living Wall project at Millbrook Roundabout is the first of its kind in the UK. It’s an exciting way to make our public spaces more attractive whilst at the same time having a beneficial effect on the environment. Investing in greening projects like this will play an important part in safeguarding our local environment for future generations.”    

Works commenced this summer with project completion expected in autumn 2019.




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Poppy Watters
Balfour Beatty
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Balfour Beatty Notes to Editors:

  • Balfour Beatty ( is a leading international infrastructure group. With 26,000 employees, we provide innovative and efficient infrastructure that underpins our daily lives, supports communities and enables economic growth. We finance, develop, build and maintain complex infrastructure such as transportation, power and utility systems, social and commercial buildings.
  • Our main geographies are the UK, US and Hong Kong. Over the last 100 years we have created iconic buildings and infrastructure all over the world including the London Olympics’ Aquatic Centre, Hong Kong’s first Zero Carbon building, the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the US and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
  • Balfour Beatty Living Places works in long-term partnerships with local authorities to create great places to live, work and play. We actively engage with local people to understand the needs of the communities we work in and shape the places where local economies can thrive and grow. As a leader in sustainable working, diversity and social value, we use our expertise to bring real, positive change for our customers. We leave a legacy of connected communities with strong local economies that really work for local people with clean, safe and prosperous streets and social spaces.
  • The business has developed a wealth of experience across the UK. Current projects include a £24m per annum highways maintenance contract with Warwickshire County Council, a £20.8m per annum public realm services partnership with Herefordshire Council, and a £10.6m per annum highways services contract with Southampton City Council. Balfour Beatty Living Places also have a £100m highways street lighting PFI with Coventry City Council, a £175m highways street lighting PFI with Sunderland City Council and a £175m highways street lighting PFI with South Tyneside MB Council.
  • Recently completed Balfour Beatty Living Places projects include the £4m highway network term maintenance contract on behalf of Wokingham Borough Council, and a £400,000 street lighting maintenance term contract for Wokingham Borough Council.

Biotecture Notes to Editors:

  • Biotecture design, supply, install & maintain sustainable living walls and green infrastructure, and provide full after-care. The green infrastructure can be for external or internal locations. Their patented, hydroponic living wall system was invented by the founders of the company. Large-scale projects include corporate/retail, airports/stations, highways, universities, car parks, leisure & hospitality. Smaller scale green screens and spaces are also been provided by Biotecture for use in retail outlets, healthcare, schools, residential courtyards or roof gardens.  A selection of case studies and technical information is available for download at

Image: An artist impression of the living wall at Millbrook Roundabout

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