Cllr Ian Manning has been working with South Cambridgeshire colleagues Cllr Anna Bradnam and Cllr Hazel Smith to investigate concerns that Network Rail are breaching their agreed plans for the station, specifically where it runs up to Long Reach Road.
The nature of the station site means both South Cambridgeshire and City Council officers are involved, hence Lib Dem Councillors working together to ensure the issue is given sufficient attention.
After a site visit the following issues have been highlighted to City Council planning enforcement.
1) Willow Acoustic Fencing
The construction was timber pillars about 8-10 feet high and at intervals of approx 10 feet wide.
Between the pillars were ‘panels’ which consisted of a central core of acoustic insulation (like a mattress) and on either side of this central core, (to ‘front’ and ‘back’ of the fence) horizontal metal rods, between which vertical stems of willow had been woven (cut at top and bottom ends).
We were shown this as if it was a ‘job done’ and on enquiry I was told it had been installed two weeks ago.
We could see the Willow stems were sprouting and Bana Elzein (City Landscape Officer) referred to the fact that the Willow would grow ....
BUT the bottom of the Willow stems was 8” clear of the soil level.
There was no way this Willow could grow – if it is intended to do so.
I asked if there was a plan to bring the soil level up above the level of the Willow stem bases.
It seemed there was no such plan – as I say – it was presented to us as ‘job done’ but Joe Smith reluctantly agreed to bank up the soil against the bottom of the fence – but no time period was agreed.
This site seems to imply that Willow can be living or just woven to create an acoustic fence.
Q1 Please would you ensure (if the Willow is intended to grow) that the soil level is raised (importing soil if necessary) on both sides of the acoustic fence to cover the Willow stems to a depth of at least 8 inches, within one or two weeks (i.e. by 18 April at the latest). Reason – to give the Willow a chance to grow.
It is understood the existing planting plan needs to be undertaken (on the railway side of the fence) – but additional planting of substantial mature trees is required, to restore high visual screening to the houses at 54 Long Reach Road and neighbours. Bana Elzein suggested 5-6 metre high trees of native species should be planted on the railway side of the Acoustic barrier, to replace the high screening which has been destroyed, in
3) Prevent public access behind the Acoustic Barrier
To provide security for the properties on Long Reach Road, whose rear boundaries are not currently secure from the railway side.