During the week news emerged via Twitter that a planning application (PA/16/02563/NC) had been spotted concerning 22 trees outside Matilda House St. Katharine’s Way to be coppiced (aka reduced to a much lower height) and 56 metres of mixed native hedge added to the estate boundary. Cue uproar!
“You can’t cut those trees down!”
But it seems the coppicing of the trees is part of a well thought out plan by the Council’s Biodiversity Officer (who knows his stuff) in conjunction with Tower Hamlets Homes and there has been proper consultation with residents.
As can be seen from the text of the Planning Application shown below the trees are just too close together to develop properly and some obscure street lights and signs.
Proper regular management of the new hedge would prevent the trees from interfering with street furniture (lamps, signs, etc.) and it would enhance biodiversity. LW has been a keen observer of the area outside Matilda House and if you have a peak over (or through) the fence you will see lots of stuff for animals and the environment such as in the photo below.
Mixed native hedgerow is a priority habitat in the Tower Hamlets Local Biodiversity Action Plan and the coppicing will help with this.
Advice on restoring the hedge was sought from Alister Hayes, an expert working for the London Wildlife Trust. His opinion was to coppicing the trees to ground level, “infilling the gaps between them with mixed native whips, and planting a second line of whips to create the traditional double line of hedgerow shrubs.” All technical stuff. LW does like a good shrub through.
“Oh OK then, cut them down.”
End uproar! We need more places like Matilda House, maybe even a dedicated mole ecology park? Just an idea….
Planning Application PA/16/02563/NC
|Application Validated||Wed 24 Aug 2016|
|Address||Matilda House, St Katharines Way, London|
|Proposal||x22 Trees to be coppiced and the restoration of 56 metres of mixed native hedge along boundary|
|Decision Issued Date||Mon 03 Oct 2016|
|Appeal Decision||Not Available|
Matilda House hedge restoration
Identification of trees and description of works
The aim of the project is to restore 56 metres of mixed native hedge along the boundary of Matilda House, between the main entrance and the eastern entrance.
Along this boundary fence is a line of small trees, mostly field maple (Acer campestre) and hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), with single purple cherryplum (Prunus “Pissardii”) and crab apple (Malus sylvestris).
A number of hazel (Corylus avellana) and purple cherry-plum, which were too small to require permission for tree works, were coppiced in autumn 2014. The species composition and short distance between these trees clearly indicates that they were originally planted as a hedge, but never managed as such.
The trees are now too close together to develop good form, and many of them are encroaching over the adjacent pavement, some of them interfering with street lights and signs. Tower Hamlets Homes environment staff, in consultation with residents and the Council’s Biodiversity Officer, agreed that managing the trees to restore a hedgerow would be desirable for a number of reasons. It would provide a more attractive frontage to the estate than the current rather straggly treeline.
Regular hedge management would prevent the trees from interfering with street furniture. And it would enhance biodiversity. Mixed native hedgerow is a priority habitat in the Tower Hamlets Local Biodiversity Action Plan, and this project will contribute to a target in the Plan.
Advice on restoring the hedge was sought from Alister Hayes, an expert working for the London Wildlife Trust. He agreed with the Biodiversity Officer that the trees are too large and old to effectively lay as a hedge, and advised coppicing them to ground level, infilling the gaps between them with mixed native whips, and planting a second line of whips to create the traditional double line of hedgerow shrubs.
The coppice regrowth and new shrubs could then be managed by traditional hedge laying techniques on a regular cycle. To avoid the need for Conservation Area consent, only the trees and shrubs under 75mm breadth at chest height were coppiced in autumn 2014 and about 350 whips were planted in early 2015, but growth of the whips has been very poor due to the lack of light. It is therefore now proposed to coppice most of the remaining trees, leaving three of the best field maples as emergents, and to re-plant whips where the original ones have failed.
A total of 22 trees (trees 2, 4, 5, 6, and groups 8, 11, 14 and 16 – see below) will be coppiced to ground level, with the regrowth managed in future as a hedgerow. These are 12 field maples, 8 hawthorns, 1 purple cherry-plum and 1 crab apple
Trees to be coppiced
Acer campestre 12
Crataegus monogyna 8
Malus sylvestris 1
Prunus “Pissardii” 1
For more information
- Tower Hamlets Biodiversity
- London Wildlife Trust
- Tower Hamlets Planning Register (Search for ‘Matilda House’ or PA/16/02563/NC)
- What is coppicing?