Local news for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets

22 trees outside Matilda House to be coppiced – but for sound ecology reasons

By on November 19, 2016 in News, Planning

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.

matilda-house-trees-03

Matilda House, St Katharine’s Way

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.

matilda-house-trees-01

One of Matilda House’s Wapping Squirrels (left) enjoying the local habitat.

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

Reference 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
Status Decided
Decision Permit
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

Total 22

For more information

matilda-house-trees-05

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  1. The felling of trees is not desirable in central London. However it being deemed necessary, there should be an equation which links the bio-diversity, together with the oxygenating trees to produce in equal, at least, to what has been removed. Otherwise the area will suffer. Therefore to create another bio-diverse area, which takes time to achieve, with a risk of failure, has to be assessed appropriately.

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