Harpenden trees at risk from access ramp scheme

Tree works

Tree works - Credit: Archant

A THREAT to fell 11 mature trees as part of an improvement scheme has prompted a furious resident to rally community groups and neighbours against the proposal.

Notices have been placed on the deciduous trees, which include oaks, by the Ambrose Lane Bridge where work is to be undertaken to create a pedestrian and cycle access ramp between Ambrose Lane and the Nickey Line.

The tree removal notices were spotted by Alan Jackson, of Lambourn Gardens, who has since involved the town council and the Harpenden Society in a bid to enlist their support to save them.

Mr Jackson said the the notices were difficult to see and did not invite objections.

He originally feared that the chainsaws would be coming out last week but has since learned the project has been put back a couple of weeks.

However he is still concerned that the project as it stands will be imposed on local residents with only minimal consultation and has taken it on himself to urge his neighbours to make their views known

Mr Jackson is a supporter of the Friends of the Nickey Line and backs the need to improve access to the footpath and cycleway but not at such a high environmental cost.

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He maintained that what was proposed was out of proportion to what was needed and described it as, “an over-engineered solution.”

He believes the drop-off point for the ramp is unsuitable with no safe stopping or parking area nearby.

Mr Jackson described the removal of the trees as “totally unacceptable” and said they were important in enhancing the character of the area as well as contributing to the natural wildlife habitat.

The ramp scheme is a combined project involving both the district and county councils, Sustrans, Harpenden town council and the Friends of the Nickey Line.

A letter has now gone out to residents outlining the proposals and asking for comments to be submitted by next Wednesday, April 10.

St Albans council’s head of community services, Richard Shwe, explained that funding had been secured to resurface part of the path on the Nickey Line, subject to improving access to the path.

He went on: “We are now consulting on the proposals in line with our original project plan.

“Letters have been sent to local residents setting out the proposals and directing them to our online consultation. We are also discussing the proposals with community stakeholders, including Friends of the Nickey Line and Harpenden Town Council.

“The suggested proposals include resurfacing of the path between Hollybush Lane and ‘5 Way Cross’, Townsend Lane to provide a 2.5m wide, all-weather path for pedestrians, cyclists and people using wheelchairs and child buggies.

“This also includes proposals to replace the access steps at Park Hill that are currently closed and to construct an access ramp at Ambrose Lane.”

Mr Shwe explained that every effort was being made to retain the natural habitat but it was likely that some trees might need to be removed to make way for the proposed ramp.

He pledged that if the proposals went ahead, additional planting would be undertaken to replace any trees that were removed.