King George V Park: Update to Tree Removal & Replanting Proposal

For those that have seen the ominous white ‘X’s on the trees in King George V Park.

Adapted from an email copied to NTBCC from the Secretary of the Friends of King George V Park to their members.

‘Dear Friends of the Park,

We are picking up an understandable amount of somewhat bewildered concern in the neighbourhood about just what is happening to the trees in the park at the moment, and The Friends’ committee thought it might be a good idea to try to clarify the situation as best we can.

It is obvious that many of the people expressing concern suspect the hand of the developers of the ex-RBS site to be behind the tree works.  To a certain extent, it is. Planning legislation makes provision for local authorities to seek from developers a financial contribution to a community, by way of compensation for disruption or otherwise unwelcome change, and the Council has been involved in discussions with Ediston about the form this could usefully take.  Parks staff  have concentrated on funding for upgrading the paths in the park and tackling much needed tree management.

The trees conspicuously marked with a white ‘X’ in the park are ailing and are probably appropriate subjects for removal & replacing with new.  Sadly they include all the ash trees, which are threatened nationwide by the devastating outbreak of chalara fraxinea.

All reasonable, so far, even if the choice of some of the proposed replacement trees seems a tad eccentric. Disturbing however, is the fact that the attached plan suggests no activity in the border beds along the south and west boundary of the park.  These are the beds adjacent to the proposed new blocks of flats, the planting of which the Friends of the Park, in company with other local amenity groups, see as crucial if there is to be any hope of achieving some level of screening for these new (possibly six storey) buildings.  A mere half dozen trees in these beds are currently ‘X’ marked for removal which may or may not be reassuring.  However, both beds are a scrappy mess of scrub growth and it is highly unlikely that Ediston would be happy for borders in this condition to continue to fringe the park directly alongside their pristine new buildings. This suggests that there could be important further discussions between Council and developers in the pipeline.  We must press for any resulting proposals by Ediston to be subject to the due process of a planning application, as has been the case with the proposed new entrance to the park to the south east, which entails the removal of viable trees (20/03655/FUL) . This would give us all a chance to make the case for the greenest possible park, maximum retention of viable existing growth, maximum supplementation to fill gaps and maximum reduction of the impact of the hard surfaces of buildings on a tranquil green space.  Unfortunately, shrubs, which the Friends of the Park consider almost as important as trees for greening the park and helping to screen buildings, do not have the same protection as trees.

There is little for our long term comfort in all of it but at least for the moment the ongoing work on the trees seems reasonably benign.’