Alexandra Gardens

Century old plane trees in Alexandra Gardens under dire threat from council

Alexandra Gardens Insurance company says the trees must go as they caused structural damage
It has been stated that these trees must be butchered and/or felled because of local structural damage for which they are blamed.

After a brief public consultation period, a council report was issued

This issue was then originally due to be discussed at a Planning Committee meeting on the 22nd September but is now officially postponed until mid November. Updated report

This now gives much more time for consideration and comment and will enable ward councillors and Councillor Rod Cantrill, who makes the final decision, time to discuss the issue with residents.

It appears to us that insurance companies are dictating the options to the parties involved.  It is of great concern that the council seemingly cannot counter their arguments.

Useful information
Local blogger Richard Taylor has two articles here and here on the issue.  

First Council consultation
Before it was known that the meeting was postoned, Andy Davey had produced a flier that can be viewed and printed out, and has written a superb letter of protest to the planning committee.

Dr Adrian Hill has written an excellent rebuttal of the council's arguments.   He also has extracted highlights from the London Tree Officers Association guidance on tree risks

A local group Save Alexandra Gardens Trees has now been formed to fight the proposals.  Contact them if you wish to help.

Second Council consultation
We had suggested that the council should rethink their plans. They have now issued a new consultation letter and detail of works that SOS only spotted on the day it expired.  We received no email notification of the new consultation which is pretty sneaky. Nevertheless we quickly sent in an objection to the proposed works.

After an FOI request by Richard Taylor, the City Council has finally issued an information pack of engineers reports and correspondence.  Apparently a crate of correspondence from 2003/4 has gone missing.

Public meetings
The City Council webpage announced a public meeting to discuss the issue on October 15th:

"Councillors are keen to avoid extensive work on plane trees in the city's Alexandra Gardens, and have called a public meeting to explain the background to the issue and hear residents' views and concerns".

They issued a letter of invitation to the meeting.   A revised letter was then issued here

October 15th: Andy Davy and Councillor Rod Cantrill were interviewed on the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire breakfast show.   The interview is available here:

The public meeting on the 15th was very well attended.  The council apologised for the unsatisfactory previous consultations.  We received the impression that he council was listening, and wanted to find a solution that would avoid the worst scenario of tree felling.  They were willing to work in collaboration with a number of residents who have done considerable research into the issue.

SOS made them aware of concerns regarding other cases where trees are recommended for felling due to insurance company wishes.   One case in particular is in Robert Jennings Close, where it was decided to fell, decided at a planning meeting on Wednesday 20th October.   The agenda report is here see item 8b.

Dr Sam Hill has produced an excellent and thoroughly convincing presentation which deflects the cause away from the trees and on to the soil and the house itself. You can download the paper from the Alexandra Gardens website, here or as a slideshow
According to Andy Davey, after these developments the council are considering options at present and will set out a new set of proposals in the next few weeks. If any tree management is proposed, they will open a public consultation as they did in September last. After this, the proposals will be heard at a Special hearing of the Planning Committee in February (date to be announced). The planning Committee will decide whether to accept or reject the proposals. After this, the final decision will be taken by Cllr Cantrill at a Community Services Scrutiny Committee meeting in March.

15th October 2010
Public Meeting convened by the city council after withdrawal of intial felling recommendation due too considerable number of public objections.
30th December 2010
Workshop - part 1- convened by Councillor Cantrill to hear the report presented by AG group showing what the real cause of the damage to the house is. The presentation also dealt with the new recommendations sent by Dr Biddle the arboricultural consultant commissioned by the loss assessors GAB for the council. This was attended by Council officers, Councillors, AG tree group representatives [Steering Committee members].
5th January 2011
Workshop - part2- convened by Councillor Cantrill. This was a discussion between the AG group representatives, Dr Biddle and the loss assessors. This part was attended by Council officers including legal and financial ones, Councillor Cantrill, Dr Biddle and GAB representative. The AG group representatives were joined by a solicitor from an environmental legal office.

For more details, see the Alexandra Gardens website