At the back of Gifford Street is a remarkable space above the Channel Tunnel tunnel – a very steep high railway embankment runs behind the Gifford Street houses then slopes down and broadens out to meet the Cally Road next to the Ferodo Bridge. Much of the site is too steep to use for development and there are some wonderful trees and scrub forming a rare wilderness with lots of interesting wildlife. There is a large concreted yard on the site and some old warehousing.
The scrubby bits of the site are sometimes called 'Copenhagen Junction Rough', which is nice for those who like a bit. The Channel Tunnel people have now finished with the site and are looking at what they can do with it next.
The folk on Gifford Street and the Cally Rail Group have had long discussion with the Council and the developer, and the Council has now come out with a draft planning brief that will govern how the area can be developed. One of the more interesting issues is how they manage the trees (at present mainly a wild scrubland) with some sensible development. The Council says:
'The draft planning brief expects proposals for new development on this site to retain trees where possible. Due to the location of housing suggested in the draft planning brief, some trees would have to be removed to make way for the new development. A tree survey is required with any planning application to help the council decide if trees are suitable for removal. Should tree removal be agreed, Islington Council requires every tree lost to be replaced with a minimum of two new trees.'
Repsonding to this isn't hard. You should look at either the fairly simple consultation document here, with lots of pictures
or the draft brief here
on the islington website, which is longer and a bit more technical, with annexes etc
However, if you can spare the time come along to a meeting where all this will be explained at 730pm on the 18 May at Laycock Professional Development Centre, Laycock Street, N1 1TH (map
) up near Highbury Corner.
As a footnote it has taken me some time to wade through this and work it all out after Lisa was kind enough to send me the documents – i hope that the council is making a special effort to communicate within the Bemerton Estate, where i am conscious not many people read this site. By special effort i mean more than leafleting.
UPDATE 22 May
We always like to correct things we don't get right the first time – Diana Shelley from Gifford Street has mailed in pointing out that I had misunderstood what had happened while the planning brief was being drafted:
'Cally Rail Group and residents on Gifford Street did not have any discussions with either Islington or the landowner about this draft planning brief. Cally Rail Group was largely successful over 15 years in protecting this designated nature conservation site from unnecessary destruction by the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and many Gifford Street people with garden extensions have helped maintain the biodiversity of the site. But despite many, many attempts over the last seven years to get the Council to draw up a planning brief for a nature reserve, it was finally produced without talking to us.
'We have several concerns about it and hope to post an edited version of our comments made to West Area Committee. The day after West Area was the first time the group met officers from planning and greenspace to discuss these concerns, and we hope they will be taken on board.
'We were particularly disappointed that there was only one proposal, unlike other local consultations (for example on Bingfield Park) where several different schemes were put forward. We hope the next stage of consulting with local people will include different ideas.'