Golf course landfill plan: questions that need answeringWritten by Robin Bishop Tuesday, 24 March 2015 20:13
The Barnet Society has published a list of questions that it says require answering to ensure that both the club and the council recognise the impact landfill could have on a band of greenery that symbolises the importance of the ‘Green Belt that makes Barnet special’.
In place of the line of 50 poplar trees, the club is proposing to take 8,000 lorry loads of top-soil and sub-soil to create a bank 12 feet high along its boundary with the St Albans Road and also to develop a new practice area.
The club intends to replace the trees to be felled with 3,000 new trees and shrubs, but the Society is concerned that the scheme might be badly executed and that instead of ‘a lovely new kind of green screen’ there would be mounds of landfill soil that could take decades to regrow.
We publish below a detailed report prepared by the Society’s planning and environment committee and the questions it wants answered.
Many of the mature and pollarded trees lining the east side of the St. Albans Road out of Barnet are likely to go soon.
As recently reported on Barnet Society’s website, the Old Fold Manor Golf Club is planning to create a mound up to 12 feet high with landfill soil, and to replace 50 poplars thought to be diseased with 3,000 new trees and shrubs. The plan is supported by the council, which owns the land.
The Society is concerned about the loss of such a quantity of trees and other vegetation in such a prominent location.
The poplars form part of a band of greenery over half a mile long that marks the boundary of Barnet and the Monken Hadley Conservation Area, as well as the golf club.
Most of us drive past too fast to notice properly, but it includes stretches of old hedgerow and copses of mature oak and other trees at each end, harbours wildlife, and symbolises the Green Belt that makes Barnet special.
The Society’s planning and environment committee has co-opted Vice President David Lee – retired landscape architect and instigator of Whitings Wood and ‘Lee’s Trees’ on Barnet Hill – to give us the expert advice needed to scrutinise the proposals.
He has toured the course, and is in discussion with the club’s project manager, Paul Grant.
We do not necessarily object to the whole scheme, which includes uncontroversial improvements to land drainage and the driving range, and restoration of a pitch-and-putt course.
We recognise that many of the poplars may be nearing the end of their natural life (having probably been planted after the establishment of the golf club in 1910, and not being a long-living species).
Done well, this could be an opportunity to create a lovely new kind of green screen, and boost the ecological value of the landscape. Done badly, it would look as though the front teeth of a friend have been knocked out, taking decades to re-grow.
So far we have seen no more than a sketch diagram of the proposals. To be convinced of their validity, we have told the club that we should like to see the following information:
- An environmental impact assessment, including an independent viewpoint on the trees, and also covering the hedgerow and wildlife. No healthy trees should be felled.
- The types and sizes of proposed trees and shrubs.
- A landscape plan showing levels, drainage and planting.
- Cross-sections through the proposed mound.
- Details of the mounding material.
- The contractor’s temporary access arrangements for delivery of the 8,000 lorry-loads of soil needed.
- Arrangements for archaeological investigation, especially of possible evidence of the Battle of Barnet.
Confirmation of maintenance of existing rights of way across the site is also needed.
We expect more details at the beginning of April, and a planning application in May. We would like to have the opportunity to comment before the proposals are finalised, and will certainly comment on the application itself.
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 12:59
posted by Paul Grant
I am the project manager for the golf club and would like to take this opportunity to address some of the concerns you have raised. We are meeting council officials next week following which we will meet again with David Lee. David has already given us some good advice on how we should manage the project and we will continue to seek his input.
We very much welcome any input prior to the planning application being made and will continue to liaise with all interested parties, both local and national. Our key priority is to ensure that we do nothing detrimental to the golf course or surrounding area, we recognise it as an area of beauty and we wish to keep it that way.
Regarding some specific points you have raised the situation is as follows;
Access will be made through the farmers field at the north end of the golf course. To gain access to the field lorries will use the current gate situated some 100 yards north of the golf course.
Only the poplar trees are being removed. The hedgerow and other tress alongside the St Albans Road will be untouched. It is worth noting that over the last 3 years 20 tress have been removed either as a result of falling are being cut due to disease. The council has agreed to the felling of the tress as they represent a considerable danger not only to golfers but also to passing motorist. We have noted the comments regarding the type of new tress that are to be planted and will hope to provide David with more information when we next meet.
The new mounds will mainly be several yards from the St Albans Road (on what is currently the rough i.e. areas of longer grass alongside the fairways) and in addition to the new tress and shrubs being planted they will be seeded with grass. We want to ensure that they are finished in such a way as to complement the surrounding countryside.
We have agreed that archaeologists will have full access to the site prior to the commencement of any work. Current thinking from the various groups is that the actual Battle of Barnet took place further north, somewhere in the vicinity of Wrotham Park. Excavations have taken place on the golf course looking for battlefield relics, including one such dig that featured in an episode of Time Team on BBC. To date nothing has been found. Old Fold Manor also counts an archaeologists amongst it's members and he is helping with the project.
The current public rights of way will not be affected, there will be breaks in the mound to allow the current access points to be used.
Finally I would like to add that if anyone wishes to discuss the project further they may contact me via my e mail address. If requested I would be happy to take people on to the golf course to show them where the work will take place.
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