Parkland Walk Vegetation Reductions
- Background to bridge repairs
- Path-side vegetation
- Notification of proposed works
- Timing of the works
- Planning and contractor
- Works on areas not managed by Haringey Council
- Are there any plans to replant bushes or trees?
The council takes its stewardship of London’s longest Local Nature Reserve, Parkland Walk, very seriously. To support the council’s management of the Nature Reserve and its railway line heritage, we have put in place ecological management plans and regular safety inspections of the bridges and underpasses that form part of the linear route.
The information provided here details why we are currently undertaking works around the bridges along Parkland Walk, and all future plans.
We recognise that our maintenance actions do not always meet with unanimous support, however, we always aim to ensure that the best interests of the environment and residents underpins all our work, and that we are transparent and provide as much information that we can to residents to explain decisions.
Over the past few years, we have been working on schemes to either repair or replace several of the bridges along the length of the Walk. In the coming months, we will commence works to repair the bridges at Upper Tollington and Vicarage Road. We have also been working with local groups to consider the replacement of the Stanhope Road Bridge. Where we do replace a bridge, we will also explore opportunities to improve access for all residents by providing ramp as well as step access.
Overall, the repair and replacement of the first three bridges represents an investment of £3.6m. Work is also in progress on four other bridges to consider their repair or replacement needs. Once completed the works will ensure Parkland Walk Local Nature Reserve can be enjoyed by many generations to come.
Inspection of the bridges by engineers identified that damage by tree roots and the subsequent water ingress was affecting the structural safety of the bridges. At several locations along Parkland Walk we have had to introduce temporary supporting structures. The engineer’s advice is that to protect the bridges from further damage and to ensure the newly repaired or replaced bridges are not damaged again in the future, we should maintain the areas within 5m of each bridge or underpass structures free from trees. Not all parts of a bridge or underpass structure is visible and therefore 5m on the ground is from the edge of the whole structure, not just the visible parts.
As a council committed to the nurturing and protection of the environment, the removal of trees is never our first choice and the decision to remove trees is never taken lightly. However, we have to remove a small number of trees from within 5m of the bridges or underpass structures. Going forward we will maintain these areas as grass level vegetation within an annual maintenance cycle.
The ecological management plan for Parkland Walk recommends that path side vegetation should be trimmed back by up to 2m each year. Over the last 3 years we have undertaken annual path side vegetation trimming of less than 2m.
During the last 12 months we received numerous complaints about social distancing on Parkland Walk and several calls for it to be closed due to a lack of social distancing. In recognition of this we discussed this year’s annual path side vegetation trimming with the Friends of Parkland Walk and agreed that a distance of 2m either side of the path would be appropriate to provide sufficient width to allow users to pass safely. Such a prescription is in line with the adopted 'Parkland Walk Local Nature Reserve Management Plan'. It was agreed that the 2m distance would not be a fixed distance along the whole length of Parkland Walk and areas already sufficiently wide would have little or no works undertaken.
In addition, trimming has taken place at each of the entrances to the Walk. The first photograph below shows an overgrown area of Parkland Walk that needed the 2m trimming either side of the path. The second photograph shows an area of the walk that required little or no work.
- Image showing an example of a main path where cutting back is required to address the encroachment of vegetation:
- Image showing an example of a main path where little or no cutting back is required (some overhang):
The public, Friends of Parkland Walk and Ward councillors were notified of the work outlined for both the bridges and path side vegetation in the following ways:
- Emails to all ward councillors for Stroud Green, Muswell Hill, Crouch End and Highgate as well as to the Friends of Parkland Walk setting out what works would be taking place, when and why
- Letters delivered to over 400 residents living near to the Walk. The letter detailed both the tree work adjacent to the bridges and the path side trimming works. Vegetation works included the removal of larger shrubs and scrub as this layer adjacent to the path is supposed to be maintained back to a level of 10cm at each maintenance visit. Other than any trees that were dead, dying, diseased or dangerous, large tree removal has been limited to the areas around the bridges
- Updated council web pages, including with the letter that was sent to residents and the text that was sent to the councillors and Friends
- Installed on-site signage at all twenty entrances along the Walk
- This signage was in addition to the signage that had been in place for the previous two years informing people that these works would be coming
- Held a follow-up (virtual) meeting with, and as requested by Ward councillors, later in December to reassure them of any concerns they may have had
The letter sent to nearby residents and published on our website set out the key planned start and completion dates along with an indication of the phasing of bridge clearance works, making it clear that the path edge works would take place throughout the duration of the works.
The works were planned so that they would be completed prior to the commencement of the bird nesting season, however, due to the impact of a further lock down period the works have taken longer than expected and will now extend into the bird nesting season until mid-April. Tree works that are necessary and need to be carried out during the nesting season (March until August) will undergo a pre-work survey by our competent arborist in accordance with the relevant legislation and underpinned by ecological surveys. Specific reports and risk assessments will be scrutinised by the council’s Tree and Nature Conservation Manager and Nature Conservation Officer.
The letter below provides an update to help residents understand where the council has got to with the vegetation clearance works at Parkland Walk.
Contractors carrying out the works are qualified, and work to a direct specification from the council. Therefore, it is not necessary, or common practice, for works of this nature to be supervised by council Officers, on a daily basis.
All the works have been responsibly planned, specified, tendered, as well as being clearly explained and discussed with the contractor in person on site, on several occasions and are being undertaken by a suitably qualified and experienced firm.
To the casual observer it may not be clear as to where path edges start and the muddy verge ends, or where the each bridge structure exists under ground, which may contribute towards the impression that more has been done than was planned or agreed.
Not all of Parkland Walk is owned by Haringey Council. For example, the photo below shows the Islington owned section of the Walk where Islington Council have recently undertaken works. Transport for London have also recently undertaken works by Highgate station.
Parkland Walk is a ‘closed canopy site’, meaning that there is generally insufficient space to plant new trees. However, if an opportunity for tree planting is identified, in a suitable location, this will be explored during the next tree planting season. The council seeks no net loss of trees in the borough and therefore is seeking to plant new trees elsewhere in the borough to compensate for the losses on Parkland Walk.
It would not be appropriate to replant trees on or within 5m the bridges, as we need to protect them from further damage from vegetation, nor within 2m of the paths.
Our Nature Conservation Officer will continue to work with the Friends of Parkland Walk to look for ways to support the implementing of the Walk’s Management Plan objectives and aspirations, including looking for opportunities to add more diverse planting where appropriate.
Where we intend to undertake replacement bridge works, we will always look for options to enhance biodiversity as part of the bridge design and consultation process. For example, at Stanhope Road bridge, biodiverse meadows are being considered for the bridge embankments and this will be used as a guide for what could occur at other bridges along the Walk where feasible and appropriate.
Where areas of vegetation and trees have been cleared, this will allow more light to reach ground level and therefore will provide increased opportunities for regeneration from the dormant seed-bank within the 2m vegetation trimming areas.
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