Tuesday 21 March 2017

Arbury Road, Hedge and Cycle Lane, 4.

Hi xxxxx,

I remember the consultation - and you'll recall that which hedges might be removed, when, and what and how would be replanted, were not a clear part thereof. '"Reducing sections of hedge" certainly does not mean the same thing as removing a large part of the hedgerow and replanting it, as I'm sure you'll agree. You can't justify not consulting properly on the wholesale removal and replanting thereof based on a vague premise.

If it was January before there was any consensus on the design for this stage of the Arbury Road scheme, with the removal of plants so late in the season, I'd question whether this is the right year to do it. As a cyclist (and active cycling campaigner) I'd also suggest that the final plans should first be shared before construction starts. Are they even available for viewing?

You've also not meaningfully consulted on the replanting scheme - few local people have had an input there, and I've only been able to do so myself by having spotted the coloured paint on the road.

So I accept that the city deal has approved this, but I've seen no particular to-and-fro between councillors and residents regarding the specifics of the approved scheme, and I've yet to come across anyone else who's had any input into the replanting. I'm also conscious that the last replanting scheme done on Arbury Road was botched from the outset, and promises from councillors (specifically Kevin Price) to look at replacing the lost bat-roosting habitat with roosting boxes on nearby flats came to nothing - most of the replanted hedge was poorly selected, poorly planted, and turned its nose up and died. I don't disapprove of cutting down what was a pretty awful row of leilandi, but its a great example of a rushed bodge job at the end of the season that avoidably ruined habitat without any mitigation by not consulting even the whole street that the hedge bordered. After that I'm not disposed to just believe assurances it'll all be ok!

I accept that if the scheme is to go ahead this year there's a real rush to do so, but I'm uncomfortable with the idea that doing so in a hurry is better than getting things right. For example getting the new plants in right at the tail end the planting season can easily go wrong if we have an early summer or warm spring - its a big ask keeping spring planted trees alive if they've had little time to put any roots out. And while I've got views on what should be re-planted based on the history, ecology, safety and further use of the site I do think that a specific consultation on that part of the scheme would be beneficial - and as there isn't time this planting season I'd choose to do so for next season.

While I'm entirely in favour of building cycle facilities on Arbury Road (indeed I think its vital we get a high quality facility along the whole length of the road if we're going to connect Orchard Park and Kings Hedges to key parts of the city such as the Beehive Centre), as I've not seen the final specs for what you plan to build on this section and as its being done in such a rush, I'm worried both about the replanting plans and the cycle route. I feel like we're rushing this for the sake of getting it done with insufficient consideration to the end results. It would be a huge shame to squander an opportunity to improve cycling, local ecology and aesthetics of the area, and it seems thats at risk.

One final note - its not a good time for taking cuttings of local dog rose yet, that'll be much more successful done a month or so from now. I'll do so when they're starting to bud, but I'll struggle for space to grow them on before planting them out. Can I give them to anyone at that point? I've also taken samples of violets, wild alliums and cuttings of ribes from the site, and I'll re-wild them back into the hedgerow probably next Spring.



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