Trees at Hillcroft


    Cedar of Lebanon in front of Powell House
This is the fourth post about Hillcroft College planning application 22/000607 and pertains to trees. It was written by C. Mellish and discusses the trees to be lost, which could total 73. There is a  lack of mitigation for the multiple functions provided by the woodland, with no recognition for the veteran oaks that will be lost. Veteran trees are considered by Natural England to be 'irreplaceable habitats' for the purpose of the Biodiversity Net Gain metric; previous posts pertain to:

Oak to the rear of Powell House


Claire writes:

Hillcroft College planning application is the worst for nature that I've seen for a long time. Residents raising concerns about the number of trees to be felled, are told that they are "self-seeded and unimportant". The badger report has disappeared but there is no redacted report supplied for public consultation about this key species. So any potential stopping up of badger setts has been airbrushed out of public discussion for the planning decision. There are no impact assessments for noise and disturbance to nature.

Impacts to the Local Nature Reserve - The Wood and R Jefferies Bird Sanctuary - are barely mentioned. Yet the woodland habitat is only separated by a footpath.

An EIA is desperately needed for this site, as well as an impact assessment for the Local Nature Reserve.

·       two trees (T29 and T1) are described with the same Tree Protection Order ID - TPO1, which leads to serious confusion

·       another howler mislabels a key boundary oak as a minor tree in a tree group. As a result, it's unclear if they know what they're felling.

·       they say they're only chopping down one tree covered by a TPO, but it's 3 if you look through carefully. For example, the Landscape Statement claims only one TPO (T5) to be felled, but later mention intending to fell a very large mature and key oak - T1/TPO1 at the South Bank road entrance to the old college.

·       at least eight TPOs are to be cut back to accommodate buildings or routeways so their growth/lifespan will be limited

·       at least 11 TPOs will have incursions into their root protection areas (RPAs) so their growth/lifespan may be impaired

·       The application documents can't decide what the key boundary tree at the northern corner with South Bank is. In the Landscape Statement it is not a TPO, but in the Design & Access Statement it's shown as a TPO and Category A. In the Arboricultural Assessment it’s a TPO, but described as a Category C sycamore.

Despite an arboricultural assessment of high landscape contribution, moderate vitality and many years of predicted life, it's to be removed to create the new entrance and car park.

·       They're also removing at least one veteran oak (irreplaceable habitat). It was recommended highly for retention by their own ecology report

·       There is no assessment of veteran trees for the site, despite the planning requirement to protect them, and allow 15m buffers around them so they're not impacted by buildings.

·       They say they are retaining the 90m hedge (along the whole of the boundary next to the station/ Glenbuck) but they are only leaving a fragment here, and putting in a tiny bit of hedge on the other side of the site - both have no connectivity left for animals trying to traverse the site from the Local Nature Reserve (The Wood and Richard Jefferies Bird Sanctuary).

·       The Urban Greening Factor calculations give no indication of how they arrived at baseline figures for the site, and no existing site UGF is given for any comparison. So is it really better for sustainable drainage? What about soil erosion on this steep slope, due to all the felling and damage to trees?

·       Looking at the replanting of trees, there's still a net loss of over 40 trees and the replacements will be tiddlers for many years.

·       The Biodiversity Net Gain calculations are equally difficult to fathom. For example, there's no calculation shown of how they arrived at ~50 improvement in the hedge habitat. Baseline figures and classifications are hard to verify.

·       The ecology reports look written in haste and submitted unchecked - they suffer from a lack of clarity and lots of typos, even 'Surbition'.

1.       The Bat Survey lacks emergence times (really important) and no assessment of the survey results, despite presenting scoring/value guidance tables for valuing bat activity.

2.       In the Ground/Aerial Tree Inspection Report, it isn't clear which site trees they scoped for bat potential (eg, was it all trees potentially impacted, including RPA inclusions?).

·       At least 20 central mature trees to be felled (14 are Cat.B): At least 2 weren't even mentioned in the arboricultural report's fell list

·       40 early mature trees to be felled for the new 4-story block of flats by Oakhill public footpath - linear groups of hornbeam and yew forming a hedge-tunnel. The flats will be only a few metres away from the path, what is is (currently) a woodland walk.

·       11 trees are to be felled to make way for a new entrance and car park.

·       .Incursions into RPAs - minimum of 18 mature site trees affected in total

·       The noise report only deals with the proposed heating plants, and noise screening mitigations for nearest buildings. Not for wildlife.

Building a new college and creche + 2 blocks of flats and adding at least 200 more people on site (with events and business hire planned)...generates no extra noise impacts?

·       Connectivity for wildlife is fragmented by felling and removal of hedging, new buildings, roads, paths and internal internal walls and fencing. There is also a load of proposed lighting in the gardens.



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