The site previously comprised of disused and overgrown allotments, which were declassified around 10 years ago, and the land allocated for use associated with waste treatment in the Local Plan.
To better inform the planning application and site suitability, Wardell Armstrong, as supporting technical advisors recommended and undertook a suite of ecology surveys in 2019. At the time the site was heavily overgrown with brambles, had some hawthorn hedging surrounding former allotment plots and a number of self-seeded trees and planted fruit trees.
The finds of surveys undertaken identified four trees which were considered more significant than the others, one a very large girthed goat willow, and three apple trees with veteran features. Rather than lose the trees as part of the development a project to move the trees to a new location just off the site was developed.
With support of Heritage Tree Services, the trees were prepared and moved during early 2020.
As the trees were too large to move with conventional methodologies, the slow process of excavating their roots using high pressured compressed air to create a root ball began in early January 2020. In order to capture as many roots as possible within the root ball without damaging the roots themselves, the excavations were opened at a distance well beyond the area where the roots were thought to be and worked inwards towards the roots. This resulted in the excavations being at least 2 m deep and 10 m in diameter before being translocate to their new homes using tracked lifting equipment.
The trees have been secured in their new locations using ground anchors and will be monitored, maintained and irrigated for five years to support their growth and survival. The area that the trees have been moved to was selected because it was clear of vegetation allowing for planting of some of the trees grown from cuttings/ bud grafts taken. It is also accessible from the public footpath, which will be upgraded as part of the development, so everyone can benefit from their splendour.