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Despite planning condition COLPAI plan to destroy trees bordering the allotment

During the summer the Golden Baggers mounted a campaign to save the trees bordering the allotments and the old Richard Cloudesley School site. Over 1,000 signatures were collected, with coverage in City Matters and the consequent positive consultation with the City resulted in a condition to protect the trees being attached to the planning permission granted on July 17. Read more about the campaign here.

Despite having agreed to the condition COLPAI has now applied to Islington Planning Department to destroy the four mature trees and all the planting along the edge of the site.

The deadline for public comments via the planning portal has passed, however you can email the Islington Planners direct quoting: 

P2107/2961-FUL Discharge of Condition no. 5

simon.greenwood@islington.gov.uk

The application was submitted on 26 October  and prior to this the Baggers were invited to ONE meeting on Thursday 18 October. They made it very clear in writing a few days later that they thought the consultation was inadequate and left many questions unanswered:

"Whilst we were grateful that you had had further survey work done, on reflection there appeared to be little information produced at the meeting which went any way to convince us that you had seriously explored any options to protect the trees, nor any creative thinking to alleviate our concerns.  In fact the only drawings you showed us had the intention of justifying the position that the trees would have to be felled.

  • Had you looked at engineering solutions which looked at cantilevering out a slab from piles and beams deeper into the site to avoid the tree roots?  Where were the drawings and calculations?
  • Had you looked into relocation of the proposed service trench?  Why were any alternatives dismissed?
  • Had you looked at using anything other than a deep scaffold for construction of what is effectively a single storey building?
  • Was there any exploration of the boundary treatment and retention of the existing established plants and climbers on the wire fence which currently form an effective screen to the building site?
  • Have you looked at sequencing the site operations so that existing trees can be retained for longer and new trees planted in their final position sooner to minimise any temporary planting and provide continuity of habitat and biodiversity.
  • We would have expected to see an arboriculturalist’s report on the effect of pruning back the trees to enable the building work to be done.
  • The Baggers had also requested at the recent Colpai Communications meetings that the new ecology survey report be copied to us but have not yet seen this.

 

Despite much chasing they were finally sent some documents on Monday 5 November - after the application had been submitted. The documents were wholly inadequate and on querying they were told that COLPAI on the basis of ‘expert opinion’ that the trees needed to be removed, had not in fact fully explored any other options to retain them, that they did not see the need to spend the money on investigation.

The Baggers asked for and were promised a copy of the application which as of November 16 has still not materialised. Fortunately a couple of days ago they were able to find the submission for themselves and discovered that the deadline for public comments via the planning portal was Monday 19 November. However City Planners have agreed to take email submissions up until Thursday 29 November.

The Baggers ask that you support them  in making representations to the planning authorities to express disappointment that:

  • the ‘consultation’ has been intentionally opaque
  • information and documents not forthcoming when promised
  • COLPAI has gone as far as to misrepresent the consultation in their application, suggesting that the Baggers are accepting of the proposals
  • clearly COLPAI has not made sufficient efforts to find workable solutions to save the trees

Email simon.greenwood@islington.gov.uk quoting P2107/2961-FUL Discharge of Condition no. 5

and please copy the City Planners

Catherine.Linford@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Every comment will make a difference

Read a detailed objection by Anna Parkinson, Golden Baggers here.

You can see COLPAI cover letter here 

Here's a little bit of inspiration from some of our younger Baggers, , who have been tying yellow ribbons to save our trees.

Read a detailed time line of correspondence below or download pdf here:

Golden Baggers: Bev Bytheway, Anna Parkinson, Jacqueline Swanson

COLPAI: Mark Lowman, Gerald Mehrtens, Paul Murtagh, Andrew Carter

 

02/07

Email: COLPAI to the Baggers

Hi Bev 

Firstly, can I ask you to forward over the notes from our meeting last week?

Secondly, I have spoken to the Director of Children’s and Community Services and gained his outline approval to keeping all four trees as discuss and re-planting at the City’s cost should they die after the school has been completed.

I still need to agree with Steve- ISG and Emma - BD Landscapes the details (tree planters, cable routes etc) and suspect Steve will still want to condition any agreement to give ISG the provision to remove the tree adjacent to Basterfield service road should they believe it represents a H&S risk, but in any event we will continue to work with the Baggers to make sure you are consulted if this turns out to be the case. 

I also need to check with LBI Planners to make sure they are happy that we submit a revised landscaping proposal showing the retained trees.  

I will contact you again in the near future with an updated landscape plan showing the retained trees.

Regards

Mark Lowman

Property Projects Group

17/07

Planning permission granted with following condition attached

Condition 5

“Unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority none of the existing trees on the boundary with the neighbouring allotments shall be removed or pruned. Prior to commencement (excluding demolition) details of the protection of the trees including the roots shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The approved protection shall be installed in accordance with the approved details and shall be erected before any equipment, machinery or materials are brought on to the site for the purposes of the development, and shall be maintained until all equipment, machinery and surplus materials have been removed from the site. Nothing shall be stored or placed in any treeprotection area in accordance with this condition and the ground levels within those areas shall not be altered, nor shall any excavation be made, without the written consent of the Local Planning Authority. Trees which die or become in the opinion of the Local Planning Authority seriously damaged or defective within 3 years of completion of the development shall be replaced with 4m Birch trees or such alternatives as may be agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.”

05/09

Email: Baggers to City

Dear Mark,

Following up on your encouraging message after you met with the Golden Baggers at the end of June, I attended the Colpai community liaison meeting yesterday evening where we touched on the construction and demolition management plans, which I understand have been submitted to LB Islington and CoL planners in order to discharge the relevant planning conditions.

The draft CMP and DMPs on the Colpai website make no mention of tree protection and the hoarding line indicated alongside the Bagger’s allotments appears to sit alongside or on the boundary wall.  When I attempted to clarify this at the meeting I was advised that it was unlikely that any hoarding would be erected along this boundary and that the existing wall and fencing would form adequate protection at this edge of the site.  I was further advised that the trees would most likely be protected using heras fencing, which I would query as this would be vulnerable to being knocked over by construction vehicles and would offer no protection against dust or indeed any additional protection against construction noise along this boundary.

I note that the condition 5 on the Decision Notice requires the submission of details of tree protection and, whilst the condition appears not to apply to the demolition phase, it is evident that trees can equally be harmed during demolition and would appeal to the development team to consider and give assurances that the trees will be protected during demolition.  Could we also request that a detailed tree protection plan is prepared and circulated for consultation with the Baggers as soon as possible?

Your message below makes reference to an updated landscape plan indicating the retained trees and we would be grateful to see a copy of this if it is available.

Kind regards

Anna Parkinson

Golden Lane Baggers Committee

06/09

Email: COLPAI to Baggers

Dear Anna,

I thought it may be useful for me to respond to this briefly, given Mark was not at the meeting on Tuesday, and we can clarify further at future meetings if necessary. 

My understanding of the discussion at the Liaison Group meeting on Tuesday was the contractor saying he was willing to install hoarding in relation to the trees in a more flexible way to take into account the wishes of the ‘Baggers’ and other affected residents as long as it didn’t have any health and safety implications. This was an offer of the contractor to be flexible rather than stating an intention, such as the trees remaining more visible from the allotment area of the site. 

As you mention below, there is a requirement to submit a detail plan and this will be circulated to stakeholders at an appropriate time.

Again, an updated Landscaping plan will be circulated in due course.

Regards

Gerald Mehrtens 
Director of Academy Development

07/09

Email: Baggers to COLPAI

Dear Gerald, 

Thank you for your prompt reply.

We have a social meeting on the allotments this weekend and I will discuss this issue with the Baggers.

Could you confirm when you intend to commission the tree protection plan, as this will need to be approved by the Planning Authority prior to the commencement of construction on site.  A revised Ecological Study was also mentioned at the meeting - is this a public document and if so, would we be able to see a copy?

Regards

Anna

21/09

Email: Baggers to COPLAI

Dear Gerald and Mark,

I have spoken with a number of the baggers, all of whom share concerns about the protection of the trees and the boundary with the allotments site, as well as potential noise, dust and disruption from the demolition and construction work.  

Please could you provide any further clarity and detail on the proposals for the hoarding and tree protection at this boundary as the plans I have seen in the CMP and DMP are not specific and we are mindful that the demolition work is due to start imminently.

I have also requested 

1. an updated landscape plan

2. a copy of the revised Ecological Survey

3. an assurance that the trees will be protected during demolition

4. that a draft Tree Protection plan be circulated to the Bagger’s Committee as soon as possible

Please could we have an update on the above?

Kind regards 

Anna Parkinson

Golden Baggers Committee

26/09

Email: COLPAI to Baggers

Dear Anna
Thank you for very much for your email, we apologise for the delay in responding. You have raised a number of items which we would like to ensure are all addressed therefore some information is a repeat of information previously provided.

You are correct that the first draft of the CMP / DMP had little information regarding tree protection. This was also raised by other parties during the ‘documents issued for comment’ period, this was addressed on the revised copy submitted for discharge of pre-commencement planning conditions.

You are correct that the hoarding line indicated to sit alongside the Bagger’s allotment, however as previously discussed, the Contractor stated he was willing to install hoarding in relation to the trees in a more flexible way to take into account the wishes of the Baggers’ and other affected residents as long as it didn’t have any health and safety implications.  Again, this was an offer of the Contractor to be flexible rather than stating an intention, such as the trees remaining more visible from the allotment area of the site.

You stated that you was advised that the trees would most likely be protected using heras fencing and that this would offer no protection against dust or indeed any additional protection against construction noise along this boundary.    Again, the offer of heras fencing is a proposal discussed to suit issues raised by the Baggers at the Baggers meeting on the 29thJune 2018 where protection was discussed.  The meeting minutes state:

“…boundary shrubs and climbers between COLPAI and the Golden Baggers’ Allotments could be retained and protected during the construction period to provide continuity of habitat; preserve existing biodiversity and offer screening from the construction site to mitigate harm and disturbance for residents and the community allotments…”

Could we ask that you co-ordinate a prioritised view from all the Baggers as there now appears to be mixed requirements to:

·       Protect the trees

·       Request to not provide solid hoarding on the proposed hoarding line

·       Existing boundary shrubs and climbers will provide screening from the construction site

Heras fencing has been discussed to address the requirements and now it is understood that heras fencing is now considered inappropriate in terms of dust and noise protection.   

An updated Landscaping plan will be circulated in due course.

The planning condition in relation to trees (condition 5) states:

“Unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority none of the existing trees on the boundary with the neighbouring allotments shall be removed or pruned. Prior to commencement (excluding demolition) details of the protection of the trees including the roots shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The approved protection shall be installed in accordance with the approved details and shall be erected before any equipment, machinery or materials are brought on to the site for the purposes of the development, and shall be maintained until all equipment, machinery and surplus materials have been removed from the site. Nothing shall be stored or placed in any tree protection area in accordance with this condition and the ground levels within those areas shall not be altered, nor shall any excavation be made, without the written consent of the Local Planning Authority. Trees which die or become in the opinion of the Local Planning Authority seriously damaged or defective within 3 years of completion of the development shall be replaced with 4m Birch trees or such alternatives as may be agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.”

A detailed plan is currently being considered and worked through. We will liaise further in due course. An update on the revised ecological study was discussed at the last meeting, where the following was confirmed:

“An ecological appraisal was carried out at on the Golden Lane site on the 29th August 2018. The ecologist confirmed that no bats were seen emerging from the building and the only activity on site was from foraging bats passing high which were arriving from the vegetated area to the west of the site. 
Bats are highly mobile and therefore the Contractor will use a precautionary approach to building demolition.
The ecology team have confirmed that there were no other ecology concerns noted and their full report will follow in due course.   The ecology team has confirmed that no further bat surveys are required, other than as may be required by Planning Conditions.”

We will share relevant reports that will be required to be submitted for Planning Conditions.

Kind regards

The CoLPAI Team

05/10

Email: COLPAI to Baggers

Good afternoon Bev

I am sure you are aware following the Community Liaison Meeting on Tuesday 2 October, that ISG are struggling to keep all four trees adjacent to the allotments in situ during the construction works.  I have spent the last six weeks working with ISG, BD Landscapes and Hawkins Brown Architects attempting to find a solution to save the trees but are coming to the conclusion that for a number of reasons  (Health & Safety concerns, potential for the trees to die once pruned and the volume of root ball that needs to be removed) three of the four trees would possibly either die during construction or pose such a risk or falling down they would need to be removed prior to a start on the assembly/ Sport Hall.   I appreciate this will be a great disappointment to the baggers and residents and therefore would like to explain the reasons behind this with You , Anna and Jaqueline (and your tree expert ) and explore other opportunities to mitigate the loss of the trees.

If you are all free during the week 15-19 October I will arrange the meeting.

Regards

Mark Lowman

Corporate Projects Director

18/10

COLPAI and Baggers meet

Baggers were presented with all the reasons why retaining the trees was a problem for the contractor / developer.

22/10

Email: Baggers to COLPAI

Dear Mark

Thank you for arranging the meeting about the trees last Thursday.   Apologies I had to rush away to pick up my son.

Whilst we were grateful that you had had further survey work done, on reflection there appeared to be little information produced at the meeting which went any way to convince us that you had seriously explored any options to protect the trees, nor any creative thinking to alleviate our concerns.  In fact the only drawings you showed us had the intention of justifying the position that the trees would have to be felled.

· Had you looked at engineering solutions which looked at cantilevering out a slab from piles and beams deeper into the site to avoid the tree roots?  Where were the drawings and calculations?

· Had you looked into relocation of the proposed service trench?  Why were any alternatives dismissed?

· Had you looked at using anything other than a deep scaffold for construction of what is effectively a single storey building?

· Was there any exploration of the boundary treatment and retention of the existing established plants and climbers on the wire fence which currently form an effective screen to the building site?

· Have you looked at sequencing the site operations so that existing trees can be retained for longer and new trees planted in their final position sooner to minimise any temporary planting and provide continuity of habitat and biodiversity.

· We would have expected to see an arboriculturalist’s report on the effect of pruning back the trees to enable the building work to be done.

· The Baggers had also requested at the recent Colpai Communications meetings that the new ecology survey report be copied to us but have not yet seen this.

Having talked to some of the other baggers and gone back to look at the potential impact on the growing boxes which we only constructed, as a community, a couple of years ago, we feel deeply aggrieved that our concerns are being dismissed with an unsatisfactory response.  Looking at the impact of your proposal to import trees temporarily into the established allotments, this is going to be destructive and disproportionate.  It feels like all the compromises are being dumped on the existing community on our side of the wall. 

We appreciate that there is an imperative for you to start on site now that the permission has been given, however true consultation offers options and an analysis of the pros and cons - this has not been done here.

We feel that the Baggers have been treated unfairly by being lead to believe that you had a will to work with us and we will be making representations to the planning authorities to express our disappointment that the ‘consultation’ has resulted in a deeply unsatisfactory outcome for the Golden Baggers and the wider community on the estate.

Regards 

Anna Parkinson

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Comment by Paul Drinkwater on November 21, 2018 at 19:25

Referring to 'Badgers' and claiming they are on board shows the dattention this matter has been given - an absolute disgrace, even by the standards of this development.

My response below, copied into City Matters.

Dear Mr Greenwood,

 

Ref: P2107/2961-FUL Discharge of Condition no. 5

I would like to object in the strongest possible terms to the destruction of the valuable mature trees bordering the North East corner of the Golden Lane Estate by its allotments.

Back in July, a condition was agreed that all attempts would be made to retain the trees. These trees are valued by residents as:

  1. There are few green spaces either within Golden Lane Estate, or indeed around the heavily polluted Islington / City border. The trees form a backdrop of award-winning allotments that are much much enjoyed and a source of wellbeing for the Community.

  2. The trees will form an important barrier between the service access and residents in Hatfield House. Hatfield House residents are justifiably angry that a service road and bins are being squeezed in right next to their building. Retaining the trees to mask the sight, noise and smells is the very least that can be done to mitigate this.

  3. The trees are currently a precious home to a wide variety of wildlife which would be devastated by the loss of the trees. I have observed and enjoyed bats, squirrels, bees and numerous bird species in the area.

 

I am angry at the undemocratic and underhand attempt to push through the destruction of the trees and breach the planning condition. I would like an adequate explanation as to why:

  1. The trees cannot be maintained as per the planning condition, despite the promise made back in July, and all the options that you have investigated to be faithful to this promise.

  2. The wishes of over 877 people who recently signed the petition requesting the retention of the trees has been ignored.

  3. The deadline for response has been announced so late and so quietly, giving residents or those who took part in the survey no notice or chance to respond.

  4. The promised ‘consultation’ has been deliberately opaque. With repeated requests for documentation from the Golden Lane Baggers withheld until after an application to destroy the trees was submitted.

  5. COLPAI is incorrectly claiming that the Golden Lane Baggers support the application. They do not and to state that they do so is clearly misrepresentation.

  6. You are ignoring your obligations under The London Plan which states “The Mayor will work with all relevant strategic partners to protect, promote, expand and manage the extent and quality of, and access to, London’s network of green infrastructure. This multifunctional network will secure benefits including, but not limited to, biodiversity; natural and historic landscapes; culture; building a sense of place; the economy; sport; recreation; local food production; mitigating and adapting to climate change; water management; and the social benefits that promote individual and community health and well-being.”

Comment by Jacqueline Swanson on November 19, 2018 at 10:13

I am one of the Golden Baggers who actively campaigned to have a planning condition applied to the COPLAI development to retain the trees bordering the allotments on Golden Lane Estate, meeting with Mark Loman and other members of the COLPAI team on three occasions.

 

NOTE: Please find attached a document detailing correspondence between the Baggers and COLPAI representatives.

 

The first meeting with Mr Lowman, ISG contractor and BD Landscapes in June was positive and in fact lead to the condition being agreed by the City. The second on 18 October was an opportunity for the COLPAI team to outline the issues they faced in retaining the trees. However, there was no documentation provided at that meeting to show alternatives had been explored. The meeting was held late on a Thursday afternoon and we responded on the Monday 22 October clearly outlining our concerns, citing a number of alternative approaches that we would like to see had been explored. I don't think it was naive of us to expect that these options would have been thoroughly investigated as part of the City's obligation to met the condition, particularly as we were led to believe at the June meeting that below ground service could be rerouted. 

 

Despite our clear concerns an application was submitted a few days later for discharge of the conditions with a cover letter which suggests that we were on board with the City's proposals or at least understanding of them. This is an intentional misrepresentation of the facts - the removal of the trees had not been previously discussed at a COLPAI liaison mtg, and there was only the one meeting already outlined with Baggers, not the several implied. We are to assume the applicant is referring to the Baggers not 'Badgers' below:

 

"These proposals have been discussed with residential of the Golden Lane Estate through the COPAI dialogue sessions, as well as “The Badgers” who manage the adjacent allotments. The reason for the proposed works and the resultant replacement trees have been fully explained and discussed over a series of meetings."

 

After the single 'consultation' meeting, despite prompting, we waited more than two weeks for the City to send what amounted to wholly inadequate documentation of the steps COLPAI had taken to retain the trees, receiving them on 5 November. At the COLPAI liaison meeting the following day Bagger representatives were surprised to learn that the application had been submitted. The COLPAI team were unable to give dates of submission. We asked if links to the planning application could be shared, and this was duly promised. There was a reluctance for the COLPAI team to discuss the documents we had received, in fact Mark Lowman made it very clear he was not prepared to discuss anything beyond mitigation and that would be best discussed at a separate meeting. 

 

We met on the Friday morning of 9 November. At this meeting we were able to ask Mr Lowman why the documents provided earlier in the week did not show any new drawings or investigations. At this point Mr Lowman told us that COLPAI would only spend the money investigating alternatives if instructed by the Planners. We again asked for the planning application submission documents and link to be provided.

 

Naturally the Baggers tried to find the application themselves but were unable to find it on the City portal. We also repeated our requests for the documents and link to be forwarded. We believed that the City were intent on proper consultation and hence would expect them to send documents / link as promised. We had no idea that the City deadline for comments had already passed and that the Islington deadline was so very close.

 

COLPAI are still be to provide the information requested - fortunately on Thursday last week we were able to discover the application for ourselves only to discover that the deadline for public comment was only a couple of days hence. We feel very strongly that COPLAI have purposefully withheld information hoping to 'run out the clock'. 

 

The level of distrust felt by residents of Golden Lane towards COLPAI is spiralling and it bodes very badly for future community relations.

 

That aside we have still not had a proper response to our  initial concerns outlined very clearly in our email of 22 October. Surely the condition imposed places an obligation on COLPAI to explore alternative construction methods in order to retain the trees not just detail why their current design requires their removal. I note that all of the drawings submitted are unchanged from those submitted in the original planning application BEFORE the conditions were applied.

 

Naturally, as a community we want to retain the trees for all the reasons outlined in our extensive campaign in the summer. Surely the very least we can expect is that COLPAI take the condition seriously and properly explore alternative methods of construction eg rerouting below ground services, amending the external paving or even moving the hall be the required distance to avoid the tree roots.

 

I hope you will take the strong feelings of the residents into consideration before determining this condition, in particular the fact that COLPAI has insufficiently demonstrated any effort to meet the condition and has instead merely rejected it as unworkable.

 

Comment by David Henderson on November 18, 2018 at 18:45

My comments below as emailed to the City and on the Islington website.

It is really disappointing that the developers have seemingly made little if any effort to investigate ways in which the requirements of this condition could be met.
Essentially, they have taken the position that the trees cannot be retained because they are in the way of the development as designed.
Surely, the intent of imposing the condition should be to ensure that the existing trees can be preserved in order to mitigate the impact of the development both during construction as well as after completion.
The developers have not outlined any measures that could have been considered to preserve the trees such as alternative methods of construction, rerouting below ground services, amending the design of external paving or even considering the relocation of the school hall by a few meters.
Equally, the standard of proper consultation seems to have been poor and designed to force through a solution rather than genuinely engage with those most directly affected i.e. the residents of the Golden Lane Estate.

Comment by Tom Martin on November 18, 2018 at 11:49

This is the objection that I have sent to the City (by email) and Islington (on the web form).

Regarding COLPAI. We, a family of three, strongly object to COLPAI's proposal to destroy the four mature trees and other plants along the edge of the site. Furthermore, COLPAI have made the consultation intentionally opaque, COLPAI have not produced documents in a timely manner, COPLAI have intentionally misrepresented the Baggers, and COLPAI have not made any effort to find a solution to save the trees and plants.

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