Details of a Green Party objection to proposed tree works on St Matthew's Piece

4 July 2022

Councillor Hannah Copley has submitted an objection to proposed tree works on St Mathew's Piece. An application has been put in to significantly reduce the height and canopy spread of the trees in an attempt to address alleged subsidence of a nearby building. Cllr Copley says that the trees are the area's "crowning glory" and the proposals would be in breach of several planning policies. She and the other Green Councillors for Abbey Ward, Cllrs Naomi Bennett and Matthew Howard, will speak agains the applicaiton at a Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday 6 July.


The full text of the submitted application is below.


This is an objection on behalf of:
Cllr Hannah Charlotte Copley (Green Party, Abbey)
Cllr Matthew Howard (Green Party, Abbey)
Cllr Naomi Bennett (Green Party, Abbey)
Cambridge Green Party

We strongly object to 22/0271/TTPO. These three trees are an essential and central part of a invaluable avenue of trees in a part of the city which has a huge deficit of parks and public open space. We are speaking on behalf of residents of Abbey, as ward councillors. St Matthew's Piece is bordered by Abbey ward on two sides.

The trees that encircle the whole of St Matthew's Piece are the area's crowning glory. The immense value of these trees was emphasised by Cambridge City Council Arboriculturalist Diana Oviatt-Ham in 2006 and 2008 who stated "the especial significance of the trees as individuals and a group", and stated their protected "status should not be compromised". These trees are covered by Tree Protection orders and furthermore are in a conservation area.

This proposal is in breach of the following policies:

This proposal is in breach of Cambridge Local Plan Policy 14 which reads as follows: "In protecting existing assets, including heritage assets, landscape and water management, development should: f. seek to protect existing public assets, including open space"
This proposal does not protect St Matthews piece and these trees as part of it as an existing asset - it will permanently and severely damage and disfigure them.

Second, this proposal is in breach of Local Plan Policy 67 (Protection of Open Space) which reads as follows: "proposals will not be permitted which would harm the character of, or lead to the loss of, open space of environmental and/or recreational importance". This application would lead to significant harming to the character of this open space which is of immense recreational importance.

Finally, this proposal is in breach of policy 71 (trees), which states "Development proposals should: preserve, protect and enhance existing trees and hedges that have amenity value as perceived from the public realm", of which these trees have undoubtedly huge amenity value.

There are many residents of Abbey ward who rely on this public open space as their nearest amenity - specifically the residents of St Matthew's Garden's, New Street and around and parts of Riverside area.

Although Abbey as a whole has a lot of wonderful and large open spaces, this does not apply to residents in this part of Abbey who experience a similar lack of open space to residents of Petersfield. If the current Public Open Space provision was provided for the current Petersfield population based on current standards for a new housing development, then Petersfield's existing level of Public Open Space provision would be less than 7% of its entitlement. This is a severe shortage.

In the context of this, any threat or damage to the only park in Petersfield, and the only one nearby for the Abbey residents we detailed above needs to be vigorously contested - there simply is no alternative to this much loved park.

The strength of the park comes from the trees that surround it - specifically the wonderful and mature London Plane trees that make this a haven on hot summer days. The reduction in height and canopy as proposed by this application would do huge harm to the park as a local amenity.

Please reject this proposal, due to the immense value of these trees to us all.


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