Home   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Cambridge roundabout works standoff success as trees protected by residents on Milton Road





Protesters took up residence on the Milton Road roundabout which is due to have all its trees felled today in a desperate bid to protect the coppices and habitat from destruction.

The disputed site with the last coppices still remaining on the junction of Milton Road with Highworth Avenue on Friday morning, October 21, 2022. Picture: Mike Scialom
The disputed site with the last coppices still remaining on the junction of Milton Road with Highworth Avenue on Friday morning, October 21, 2022. Picture: Mike Scialom

Activity on the site started at around 8am, when a construction team moved in, and West Chesterton resident Katherine Knight took up position in the centre of the roundabout along with other local residents for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon.

The situation developed on Monday when a team of workers set about remodelling the roundabout as part of a Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) programme to improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The residents claim that there was no consultation process, which is disputed by the GCP, and reported that five different coppices on the roundabout were destroyed to make way for new trees and shrubs.

The work was halted on Monday, when it was clear that protests were taking place, and rescheduled for Friday.

Protesters on the Milton Road roundabout with Highworth Avenue on Friday morning. Picture: Mike Scialom
Protesters on the Milton Road roundabout with Highworth Avenue on Friday morning. Picture: Mike Scialom

Speaking at the site today, Katherine said that the communication with the site team had not been straightforward.

“One of the residents, Nicky, spoke with the site manager who said he would go back to the GCP because the work isn’t really necessary,” she said. “The trees don’t need to be destroyed, it’s only to to make the roundabout look neater. But she heard nothing back from the site manager, so she feels extremely disappointed.

Contractors machinery on Milton Road roundabout with Highworth Avenue for GCP project. Picture: Mike Scialom
Contractors machinery on Milton Road roundabout with Highworth Avenue for GCP project. Picture: Mike Scialom

“Nicky came down here at about 8.30am and spoke with the site manager and posted on the community WhatsApp group for Highworth Avenue, which includes about 65 houses in the close. I came straight down and met with some of the workmen, who continued to use a shredder and a chainsaw. One told me to stand to one side. He was very aggressive and gesticulating. We’ve been pounced upon here, unlike at Alexandra Gardens where the residents had lots of warning.”

One of the works team approached the group and asked if they could put a fence around them for safety purposes.

“I don’t really want to be fenced in, I’m afraid,” she replied.

Another resident, Mike Kimberley, said that he had received a questionnaire in the WhatsApp group.

“What was sent round on The Jam Jar – the residents’ Whatsapp group – was a link to a GCP consultation questionnaire hosted by them on SurveyMonkey. That was in July 2020.

“The questionnaire was deliberately vague, with questions like, ‘Would you like the roundabout to be more ecologically friendly?’

Digging – rather than felling – work goes on around protesters on Milton Road roundabout. Picture: Mike Scialom
Digging – rather than felling – work goes on around protesters on Milton Road roundabout. Picture: Mike Scialom

“Lots of residents responded, all saying, ‘Don’t do the design you’re proposing; keep what’s already there as that is already the best for screening, biodiversity and absorbing pollution’.”

Mr Kimberley also pointed out that the GCP document on the roundabout works doesn’t include a flag that trees will be destroyed.

“It has a red symbol for trees to be removed, and that symbol doesn’t appear on the roundabout,” he noted.

“All these trees would comfortably sit within the margin of the new roundabout,” added another resident, David.

Works team on site on Friday morning. Picture: Mike Scialom
Works team on site on Friday morning. Picture: Mike Scialom

By 11.30am the tree surgeons had departed the site in their vans.

“As soon as we leave they’ll start up again,” said Katherine. “But they can’t stay all day. They tried to intimidate me but they had to stop.”

The protesters were then told that the work being done today was only to ensure the services – the pipes and wires – underneath the roundabout were safe, but another resident disputed that line of reasoning.

One noted: “The site manager already told us it had been checked and cleared.”

This coppice has received a reprieve, though for how long remains unclear. Picture: Mike Scialom
This coppice has received a reprieve, though for how long remains unclear. Picture: Mike Scialom

The protest went on with half a dozen locals standing around chatting. They explained the complexity of the habitat around them. The main tree left after the felling on Monday is a sycamore, and there is also a cotoneaster bullatus, “a species of shrub from the rose family, commonly known as hollyberry”, philadelphus, wild rose, holly and cornus, also known as dogwood.

At around 2.30pm the contractors returned and placed high fencing all around the site.

Fencing erected around site by mid-afternoon
Fencing erected around site by mid-afternoon

A GCP spokesperson said: “The GCP has temporarily suspended work on the Milton Road scheme, which will provide safer and more reliable bus and active travel journeys between Cambridge and communities to the north to cut congestion and improve air quality along a busy route in and out of the city.

“The removal and replacement of a number of trees and vegetation along Milton Road – including from the roundabout – to enable these significant transport improvements to be made was included in the public consultation and subsequent construction plans.

“To mitigate this, and as part of our commitment to the environment, we will plant 194 new trees using a tree pit system which will help them to grow and increase tree canopy cover. Additionally, 4,611 m2 of rain garden and grass and wildflower verges will be put in to significantly enhance biodiversity and to create a greener gateway to the city.”



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More