The Greater Cambridge Partnership, the organisation responsible for the “City Deal” investment in Cambridge, are to hold a private workshop event to discuss Milton Road’s trees on Tuesday 3rd October, 6pm-8pm at Chesterton Community College, Gilbert Road, CB4 3NY.
I have been invited after volunteering to attend as a local resident and reporter when people were given the opportunity to sign up for places the event after a public meeting of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Milton Road “Local Liaison Forum” on the 12th of September 2017.
The agenda for the meeting, which I have been sent privately (and immediately tweeted) states:
6.00pm – Introduction to workshop session
6:05pm – Presentation by Council Officers: Technical guidance andprofessional advice to help inform discussions
6.25pm – Clarification of the desired outcomes of Task 1 and how the facilitation process will work
6:30pm – Workshop Task 1 discussion in subgroups
6:55pm –Facilitator feedback summary of Task 1 outcomes
7:05pm – Clarification of the desired outcomes of Task 2 and how the facilitation process will work by Kieran Perkins (Independent landscape consultant from 5th Studio)
7:15pm – Workshop Task 2 discussion in subgroups
7:40pm –Facilitator feedback summary of Task 2 outcomes and discussion session
8:00pm – End of workshop
* Discussions aim to provide the project team with attendee’s preferences and feedback to help
inform the Preferred Option Design development
a further document on the aims of the event stated:
Following an initial brief presentation. Attendees will be broken up into small facilitated groups and will be asked to:
Identify preferences for Tree types along Milton Road, relative to:
- (a) From a pre identified selection of suitable trees (based on experts’advice). Groups asked to select top 3 preferred tree types for use on the narrower sections of Milton Road (South of Arbury Road Junction)
- (b) From a pre identified selection of suitable trees. Groups asked to select top 3 preferred tree types for use on the wider sections of Milton Road (North of Arbury Road Junction)
Based on key future ‘landmark’ landscape areas identified along Milton Road:
- Each group will be assigned a landmark area and asked to identify ideas for its use and design. Ideas from groups will then be fed back to all attendees to enable wider discussion be captured on ideas for use & design of each landmark location.
- To assist group discussions and feedback, tree selection information sheets and landscape ‘landmark’ plans will be provided at the workshop
My views and plans
I intend to share the information presented at the private event so people can find out what is being discussed.
On trees my consultation response from February 2016 stated:
- I would like to see 2m wide continuous cycleways, with priority over side roads, segregated from motor traffic by trees and planting along the full length of Milton Road from the Science and Business Parks to Mitcham’s Corner where they should connect with a wider city network including the traffic free riverside paths. As evidenced by experience in the Netherlands making cycling safer and more pleasant encourages more people to do it. More people cycling means fewer using motor vehicles, reducing congestion on the roads.
- My personal view is ornamental cherries have become closely linked with the road especially following repeated campaigns to save and maintain them. Milton Road is known for being bursting with the colour pink and the smell of cherry blossom. I think replacement planting should be predominantly cherry, as currently with a range of blossoming periods. The opportunity should be taken at junctions, and other areas where there is more space, to plant trees which will be expected to grow larger and last longer such as oaks, limes, planes and poplars.
- I urge elected representatives to keep a close eye on tree planting proposals and to ensure that good value for money is obtained. Recently in Cambridge many newly planted trees have failed including on Milton Road and in the surrounding streets.
- Trees should be planted in, or moved to, specially constructed tree pits so the risk of tree roots damaging the new road, cycleway and pavement surfaces is minimised and the opportunity for trees to thrive is maximised.
At the workshop on crossings and bus stops the Chief Executive of Stagecoach noted the importance of considering tree location in relation to bus stops from a safety, visibility, point of view. There is also the question of trees coming into contact with tall vehicles including double decker buses.
The safety and visibility factors don’t only apply at bus stops of course. One way visibility can be maintained is by planting trees where the canopy is already above drivers’ and cyclists’ eye level, and keeping the trees maintained so the canopy is kept high.
I think we should set out a long term, repeating, plan for the maintenance of the avenue of trees on Milton Road; that shouldn’t constrain future generations but it perhaps will help guide the future and make it easier when apparently dramatic steps are taken in the interests of the long term maintenance of the avenue. For example initially trees may be planted more densely than will be ideal when the trees mature, so a plan to thin out trees after say 30 years might be incorporated. (Something along these lines has happened on the backs on Queen’s Road behind King’s College). If plane trees are planted it might be part of the plan to pollard them when they reach a certain height – say 7m for example.
I think an avenue of pollarded planes interspersed with cherry trees is one attractive option; giving the dramatic stature of the plane trees as well as the attractive spring colour of the cherries.
We need to be careful about light, and about trees impacting access for taller vehicles eg. skip lorries to people’s property.
We need to be clear who is responsible for maintaining the trees and what the relationships are between the various public bodies and any contractors.
We could consider installing the means for lighting the trees during the winter.
There is the opportunity for significant areas of tree planting on new green space at the Elizabeth Way junction, and possibility elsewhere too depending on other design decisions.
I would have liked to have seen the event taking place in public so we could all see what is being discussed. All consultation responses relating to trees should have been collated and the arguments for and against various options should have been distilled. I am disappointed that this kind of analysis of the consultation responses has not taken place.