Friday 31 March 2017

Arbury Road Hedge and Cycle Lane - A little more promising

Here's what it was looking like yesterday...

So the planting isn't being done badly as far as I can tell - they need a good watering though, and soon, if they're not to suffer. 

There's lots of space for a high quality cycle lane to follow - I'm still disappointed that the plans for this haven't emerged. I get that there could be a colossal unknown gas main down there and maybe the plan might have to be subject to change for unforeseen circumstances, but I still maintain that a blueprint of the plan should be available before we're asked to decide whether we approve or not. Surely its fair to base my willingness to surrender space from use (a) to use (b) can reasonably impinge upon the quality of provision afforded to (b)?

But I think I've otherwise got better news. Some things that City Deal have agreed on. Now I don't as a rule blog up anything emailed to me verbatim (seems rude) but I will this time, because I can't really see why not. Here's what they've agreed to (and my thoughts in italic next to it)

-          A post and wire fence to be installed to support the hedging, and to stop people trying to walk through it. We inevitably need at least a temporary fence - ugly but necessary and, frankly, I don't care about the specific details. This is better than a roll-up chestnut fence in that it produces less shade
-          80 metres of additional hedging (11 metres near Albermarle Way and 70 metres replacing the City Council planted section that largely failed). Good news also - necessary to replace the complete pigs ear the City Council made of replanting last year
-          A new American Lime tree on the wide verge section. Not a bad choice, it'll sit well with the hybrid limes nearby - not my first choice in that spot but an entirely decent idea
-          Some Cambridge Gage trees planted within the new hedge. This is a huge win, if it happens - great tree for wildlife and replaces the gage trees lost therein - its a matter of principle that we maintain at least some of the agricultural history of the site
-          A Spanish Oak tree planted in Arbury Town Park. 
-          An unhealthy tree to be felled in Arbury Town Park, to give more room and light for the nearby trees to flourish. These are both appropriate tree management strategies in the location specified - Spanish oak will do ok in this spot, and some thinning of the trees referred to here is necessary
-          Under planting within the new hedge. Species to be determined, but likely to include Dogrose and Hogweed, as per your suggestion. Another win - hard to get this up and running this season, and a daunting task to get it right, but a hedge is more than just the trees and unless we replace them 
-          A ‘no spray’ management regime to ensure the under planting can grow. Essential. We can't re-establish a proper hedge without this
-          Consideration given to bat boxes, but this will depend on how feasible it is to site these on buildings and taller trees. Running to catch up with the last hedge removal scheme which was so horribly botched - good news

So where are we now? Well, I think that the point of getting a consultation on hedge/tree removal right to facilitate cycle lane construction has hit home. Its been, from my perspective, a pigs ear of a process (as detailed in earlier posts). 

The shrubs going in are wrong. Its that simple - I defy anyone to show a hedge of any decent age made up thus in and around this part of Cambridge. Yes, there are a few species there that weren't in the original hedge, but there were species in the original hedge that aren't in this - getting greengage back was a fight, we've lost elder, ash seedlings, flowering currant, bullace and others. 

What I really hope from this is that next time we do better - if we cock these schemes up we'll see nothing but opposition to further improvements in cycling facilities.

Maybe we've saved this now. Maybe. We'll see.

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