10,000 years of tree growth will be cut by MCC after a deal with Heritage Lottery Fund to celebrate the park 2012!- Updated 8dec12

Credit Photos by Dai O'Nysius
Photo by Dai O’Nysius

Manchester City Council will cut down all of this Glorious Little Avenue.

It will be replaced by Flower beds and small shrubs the planners say.

That’s what used to be there 100 years ago said council contracted planners.

It is estimated 3.3 acres of wildlife habitat, home to bats identified in local surveys will also be removed under the plan, is being contested by local residents.

The £ 2.2 million deal between Lottery Heritage funds and 1.9 million top up from the Manchester City Council and £0.5 million from sports funders is ignoring the environmental impact and no sustainability plan was available when council were asked at the council’s open day to show off the plan to residents in the park on Saturday 1st December.

The long smaller avenue of 50 plus maple and red and green sycamore trees are all due to be cut which equates to 2000 plus years and tree growth alone. (photo above)

210 more trees will also be cut by the council, which could inflate this figure to 10,000 years or more of tree growth.

Local residents are shocked by the 260 trees being cut when the extent of cutting was discovered by local residents on the 27th November. See Part 1 of this video here and Part 2 here

Cutting has been given the approval of the parks tree officers. The MCC did not inform the local Whalley Range Tree group under an agreement to advise them of all tree cuttings after hundreds of street trees were again threatened in March last year.

In that case cutting started and residents confronted contractors after many months of council refusal to back down on the plan. BBC and other news coverage helped change the councils stand. See the video of what happened here

Cutting could happen any day said one resident. An email from the councils local project officer for the park plan, Deborah Marsden said work will start by December 10th 2012 alex.park@manchester.gov.uk

A project manager for the council said they would not change the plan at the 1st December Council open day.

“It cannot be changed otherwise we won’t get the money from the Heritage Lottery fund to do up the park” she said.

She also blamed the situation on Heritage Lottery Fund saying they had refused to accept two other plans where the healthy tree avenue as pictured above would be saved to some extent. The councils contracted planner also present on the day said the same thing.

The Heritage Lottery Fund statement issued on this blog suggests they do not want to unnecessarily cut down trees so whats gone wrong here? Is anybody big enough to acknowledge  that and adopt a new plan that prevents cutting down healthy trees rather than the completely dismissive attitude of the council  we have experienced so far.

1200 plus people  signed the petition after a week or so and questioning of people in the park  on the 29th November, 3rd and 7th December suggests 9 out of 10 people walking in the park still do not know about it and of those people 100% did not want to loose 260 trees and wetlands wildlife habitats . Protest signs in the park and in surrounding areas indicating the cutting have been repeatably removed while signs for the council open day have been left in place long after their  event.

The council appears not to have released the tree cutting plan for around 260 tree  during the planning process which ended in council approving the plan  on 1st November  2011.

It was discovered a year later by a chance meeting with one of the council’s contracted planners in the park  on 29th of November 2012 and confirmed  at the councils open day to show off the plans which was an information only day on 1st Dec 2011 . Planning was closed as were objections  the council said on the day.

It is has only been the HLF North West who have been involved in the project  that has been interested in what we have to say so far as at December 7th and has agreed to  hearing more.

30 major trees will also be cut for 6 new tennis courts.

The Courts are part of another city wide deal between The Lawn Tennis Association and the Manchester City Council.

“This is a priority for both the LTA and the City Council” the council said in an email to a local resident who was not happy about the plan.

Planning permission for the 6 courts has already been granted by the council.

Residents also pointed out that wet leaves and tennis courts don’t mix and the surviving trees within a few meters of the 6 courts will be under threat to be removed when they realise how wet it is here.

An environmental noise impact survey has not been seen and local residents are not happy that the 2 existing courts, which have fallen into disrepair due to lack of local interest in the middle of the park, will now be moved to their back doors.

Lights on the courts were also identified as causing further problems especially at night time as problems already exist said many local residents.

“We have pointed many things out in the past and they have been ignored “said several upset residents at the open day.

The friends of the park group and the ‘people’s panel’ who have been ‘consulted’ in the process has had many members leave over the inflexibility of the dealings with the council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Others are not happy. “Those friends that stay are the ones who just accept it, others have left in disgust” said one resident who did not want to be named.

alexandra park-avenue

The avenue of tree that will be cut along with many others near by

alexandra park

A lot of trees will have to go. Look at the relative size of two courts on the second picture below to allow for the 6 courts.

alexandra park

alexandra park

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2 Responses to 10,000 years of tree growth will be cut by MCC after a deal with Heritage Lottery Fund to celebrate the park 2012!- Updated 8dec12

  1. Stephen Cook says:

    Trees should be protected where-ever they are, if at all possible, especially now we have the ash-trees under threat and various other threats to our tree population.

  2. Lee Easi says:

    This is the most stupid idea I’ve ever heard – the council is going to cut down most of the trees in Alexandra Park and replace them with tennis courts and bedding plants. Starting next Monday. They say they have no alternative as it is a condition of getting ‘Heritage’ Lottery Money fund to ‘improve’ the park! How insane is that?

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